Art silences me. Friday night, I went to Tulsa Artery where my friend’s band was playing for a gallery exhibit. The band is called Nightingale, and they’re good. The standup bass made my hips do that back-of-the-crowd nothing-to-see here thing which probably feels more subtle than it is. Bri sang with her whole body, arms tossed back, heart radiating from her chest. On the way home, I realized I’d barely spoken all night. Casey, who runs the gallery, showed me around and chatted. I ran into someone who’d bought one of my books, and that felt great. For the most part, I soaked wordlessly in the right brain bubble bath.
I first noticed the effect of art on my tongue several years ago, when Richard and I went to St. Petersburg to celebrate our anniversary. Our suitcases sizzled as we packed for our romantic downtown suite. We dropped our things at the hotel and went to the Dalí Museum. Several hours later, we drifted softly out like balloons after a parade. We were high on history and velvety color. Our heads were empty from tilting sideways, following folded images. We bobbed along downtown, touching souvenirs without speaking. Eventually, we deflated and slept.
Valentine’s Day is tomorrow. While silence can douse your sizzle, it is very useful in smaller doses. Learn the art of silence.
Silence is dignity. When you’re trying to impress someone, you might babble nervously. This is cute for a minute, but it’s exhausting for the listener. Purposely insert pauses. Smile peacefully. Adjust your posture, so your shoulders are comfortably pulled back. Quietly observe the world around you.
Silence is kindness. The older we get, the more we know. Knowledge lengthens our monologues. A good conversationalist gives quality in small doses. If what you’re saying is truly interesting, it may inspire your date. Pause and allow your sweetie to participate. If your date isn’t responsive, it might be time for a comfortable silence. Allow your partner to introduce the next topic. If the silence continues, perhaps your date is shy. Ask a question that requires more than a yes or no answer.
Continual silence creates distance. If your relationship has reached a point where you have nothing to say, do your homework. Think about what interests your loved one. Look for silly advertisements or interesting articles. Listen to podcasts, shows or conversations that will give you something to talk about. Take a class, start a project or chat with the people around you when you go out. You don’t have to write a thesis, but make an effort. Conversation will carry you years beyond perfect hair and teeth.
Do you really know everything about your partner? Try these conversation generators:
I remember the first time I heard that song. (Insert brief memory). What were you doing back then?
My dad watched all the Chuck Norris movies and loved to tell those Chuck Norris jokes like. (Insert Chuck joke). What actor reminds you of your dad?
I used to watch reruns of I Dream of Jeannie and pretend I was a genie living in a bottle. What three wishes would you ask of a genie?
Someone needs to invent (insert fantastic idea). What invention do you think the world needs?
I shouldn’t share this video with you, because it will make you laugh out loud while your date is speaking. You shouldn’t watch it, I’m serious. It might ruin your date completely—unless you can keep a straight face really well. Really well. If you can’t do it,