Email me if you have something to say. I like you.


Friday, October 03, 2008

The mute point that speaks louder than words.

It drives me crazy when someone pronounces "moot" like "mute." It's so awkward, because then you have to be very, very careful not to use the phrase around them, lest they think you're making fun. Far better just to complain about it on your blog, I say. Or to your mother, which is what I was doing the other day. Ever the optimist, my mother suggested that the person might actually mean "mute point." She presented, as an example, a certain hand gesture that, while sometimes accompanied by a choice phrase or two, is in itself silent. The hand gesture can be seen through the window of passing cars, behind a child's back from one parent to another and probably from the backseat of my car after I threaten to confiscate my children's GameBoys*. The point is made and the point is mute, not moot.

There are plenty of ways to make a mute point. Try not inviting someone to your house ever, ever again after they throw up on your couch. How about a glare? Mute points are not my favorite, because passive aggression isn't my style, but it's nice to explore the options. Raised eyebrows are a classic, as is the open mouthed stare directed at line cutters. I wrote a haiku about a line cutter the other day, in my head, so I guess it was a mute point.

Stupid lil' frat boy
Cut in line at gas station.
Forgot wallet. HA!

I was on the phone with my sister once and I asked some sort of question that took her a moment to answer. During the pause I heard a near-mute, drawn out sniff, a favorite of my mother's and her mother's, and probably her mother's, but I don't remember.

"HA!" I screeched, "You just did the sniff! MOM!"

"I did not!"

"Did too - I HEARD IT!"

"No, I...OH MY GOSH, I DID, didn't I?"

The realization was followed by a long wail. Why do these genetic certainties take us by surprise? And why are they so irritating? We love our mother. We loved our grandmother. And we most certainly would have loved her mother, dramatic sniff and all. Maybe it's the fact that we're powerless to stop the sniff. Or we have too many memories of the sniff as a response to something terrible we had done, like not wear a slip**. But I digress. The sniff, while nearly mute, is audible, even over the phone.

I need to make more mute points. My audible points are uniformly ignored, so why waste the breath? Where do points made in an email fall? Are they mute until the recipient reads the email out loud to someone else, hoping to inspire some companionable indignation? Not sure about that one...

Namasté, y'all!

* Or DS's or PSP's or whatever the kids are playing these days. I really should know this stuff, shouldn't I?

** Does anyone still wear a slip?


Lizzie said...


Anonymous said...

I still wear a slip. In fact, I wrote an entire post a while back bemoaning how difficult they are to find these days:

I think they're even more necessary these days, since so many skirts and dresses - even expensive ones - are unlined and made of flimsy, sheer fabric.

Anonymous said...

(I know, no one else does.)