Body language

Whether talking in bed or in a debate, the sentenceless speaker might be the turn-on.

By David Thomson
October 20, 2000 11:39PM (UTC)
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I said, "Look, with just one span of my hand, I could reach from your umbilicus to your --"

But she squealed -- was my hand cold? No, her agitation was linguistic.

"Those words!" she said. "The Latin ..."

"Every part of your body," I explained, "has such florid names. All I'm doing is bringing you your own bouquet."


"Yeah," she sighed. "But, I don't know. It's kinda ..."

"Would you rather I simply grunted and groaned?"

"Well ..."

"Does it disarm you so much to have your own body described?"

"You know," she struggled. "It's like, like, it's like going to the doctor."


She snuggled up, as if, having admitted that, she had every inclination to offer herself as someone who believed in faith healing.

"If," she began.

"If?" I answered.

"If, maybe, you know. I mean, don't take offense."

"I won't."

"The sentences," she said, spat it out.


"You mean that I talk in sentences?"


"That troubles you?"

"Just, it's sorta -- I mean, call me cuckoo -- English?"

"You know," I told her, "someone once said that if you spoke in grammatical sentences for 20 seconds on American television you could not help but begin to sound evil or sinister."


"Wow!" she said. "Who said that?"

"I think it may have been me," I admitted.

And then she laughed, and I have to tell you that her laugh -- even if you think of a laugh being fuzzy communication -- well, I don't quite know how to say it, but her laugh spoke volumes. And I'd have done anything, I thought, to keep her laughing. For the laughter did turn into melodious and entirely seductive murmurings from her as my hands crept up the heights of Abraham. Thank God. I didn't mention that, or him -- a little touch of Jewishness then or there would have thrown her for what she called a loop.


"Know what?" Her eyes were gazing at me now, sated and content. "Know what? It's like Dubya."

"Dubya?" I said.

"Yeah. I mean. He doesn't do sentences, does he? Just a few words, a grin and a wink. Right?"

It had dawned on me. I began to see the truth in the old adage than an American untouched by education can open all doors.


"Body language," I said.

"Now you are home," she said, and I could see she was proud of me.

"Whereas Gore," I said, "has been raised to speak with a correctness, a meticulousness, a finality that, somehow, like, you know he's thinking of lying."

"Oh, again," she said. "Do that again."


So I did, and so we shuffle on, our tenses, our participles and our hopes dragging in the dust as words yield to the collapsed intimate sounds of lust. I remember when sentences were life, and now I wonder if Dubya's snatched phrases may not be our life sentence.

David Thomson

David Thomson is the author of "A Biographical Dictionary of Film" (new edition just published), "Rosebud: The Story of Orson Welles" and "In Nevada."

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