Pandering just means “acting like a panda,” right?

If so, I love to pander.

Arkady Lifshits | Unsplash

Generally, I feel like if people don’t get what I have to say it means I failed to say it clearly enough.

That makes sense, right? I think it does.

What that means in practical terms is that most of my life has been a long fight with the English language.

It looms there over all of my thoughts, this inexorable mass with its inalienable laws, as a sometimes impassable membrane between me and other people. We are constantly divided by the barrier caused by what I mean disagreeing with what other people think that I mean.

That and typoss..

I subscribe to a school of thought that says the only way we have to communicate is via communication. I don’t think I’m alone in subscribing to this school. I think it’s a popular movement, if any of my interactions at the Sonic down the street are anything to go by.

There are other ways of communicating other than with the English language, I supposed. I’ve seen them. Art galleries and graffiti and, I suppose — if you want to be really broad with the concept — Belgian.

And cake. That’s another good one. I’ve seen a lot of people respond to cake. It’s not my language, in that I don’t speak it. But I have been known to partake in the reception of other people communicating in that way. In fact, I have gone on public record stating that I will be receptive to any attempt to communicate via cake in the future. It may be a small betrayal to my cause for the increased proponent place of the English language in the modern psyche. I console myself that, in any diplomatic action, compromises must be made. And I console myself with cake.

So we all want to say something. We all want somebody to hear what it is that we want them to hear.

The main way that I know how to communicate is with English. Words, in particular. Written ones being my special focus.

I rarely explain what I mean when I say what I choose to say. I consider it redundant. It’s a lot like, I don’t know, dropping acid and watching a Terry Gilliam movie. If you’re already going to have a hallucinogenic experience, then what’s the point of also dropping acid? Just sounds expensive.

I used to. Quite a lot. Explain myself, that is, not drop acid. After a while I started to feel like when I explained what it was that I meant to say, I sort of got in my own way, you know? People always seemed more confused after I explained myself than they did when I just let them gather up the pieces for themselves. I will admit that ideas get a bit mangled in my head. When an idea finishes passing through the long grinder that begins with my senses, continues through the detour-sign ridden landscape of the caverns behind my eyes and between my ears, and then proceeds to fall from my mouth and fingers in, sometimes, little pieces, it is an idea that has become a bit tatty and sodden around the edges.

I mean, sometimes that’s the way of it. I would like to think that many times the idea also takes on the image of origami. Maybe origami invented by the disowned love child of H.R. Giger, Jackson Pollock, and the cast of Glee, but still an intricate and only vaguely disturbing.

Which has always been a befuddling point to me. I never thought I had obscure points to make. If I may indulge in a moment of candor, I’ve always thought that most of what I had to say tended to wear the ruts of common sense a few millimeters deeper. I often feel that what I feel like saying treads old ground in big, clomping boots, and that my ideas would get most people to say, “heard it! Can we get to the headliner already? This guy’s act sucks!”

It’s meant that I’ve often written or thought of something to say that I never showed to anyone else because I couldn’t think what value it would bring to their lives.

And yet I often leave people with the bleary-eyed tendency to change the subject to weather or something. Not sure why, but it seems to happen.

So I don’t explain myself much. If my point doesn’t make sense then it means I’ve expressed myself poorly, probably, which is something that I need to work on for later, rather than get discouraged by ineffective communication last time.

It was my mother who first said to me, “What are you saying? I can’t understand a word of what you’re saying. Aren’t you a writer? Speak clearly! Open your mouth when you speak — slow down — enunciate. No one will ever understand anything you say if you always swallow your words.”

You know, in that gentle way that mothers sometimes employ to make their children feel calm and confident about their place in the world.

I’ll be grateful to her for the lesson forever, because it got me thinking about articulation. When I try to communicate, the first responsibility for any failure I experience belongs to me. I may feel tempted to blame everyone else’s mother for failing to teach them how to listen, but that’s a trap set for me by the Darkness from the film Legend, and I’m not interested in falling into it.

So I don’t explain myself. I say what I mean, and I mean it how I say it, and I don’t explain myself. I mean, I would if people asked, but people haven’t often asked, so I haven’t often explained myself.

I realize this means I’ll have an uphill struggle for mass appeal for the rest of my life. I have already set a precedent for not half speaking a load of bollocks and for the other not half of the time making no sense at all, and that’s an image that I may never shake. If, that is, I ever wish to, which I’m not convinced I care to do. And if I even care to try and have mass appeal, which I’m only half convinced matters to me.


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