The Degradation of Language and Love
Words and their strange complexities.
“Fuck.” He tosses the word out plainly. As if mentioning the weather.
I swivel around on my chair, expecting to look down at him — but he’s standing. My eyes slowly trail up from his tattered denim jeans, to his gray shirt, his folded arms, his perplexed face. They linger for a moment at his eyes, which look entirely distracted yet completely focused at the same time. The sound of his methodical breathing and the rhythmic, soothing pattering of rain on the school rooftop is all I hear.
“Isn’t it funny? How an expletive — a harsh, ugly, grating word — is the same word used to describe the process of making love? Isn’t that kinda ridiculous?” He absentmindedly picks at a scab on his finger, his questions soaking into the air between us.
“Well, maybe it just goes to show how cheap love is. Or is perceived to be.”
He goes on as if he didn’t hear me. “Jeez. No wonder immigrants have such a hard time when they arrive here. Like boom, you’ve moved to America, in search of some lofty American dream bullshit or whatever, and suddenly your entire vocabulary can be condensed to one word that can literally be used in every context imaginable. Fuck you. I’m fucking with you. Let’s fuck. It’s all fair game. Who let that happen? Is this a sign that we’re just devolving as a species, if our language is becoming this, this one-dimensional? It’s pathetic, if you ask me,” he spits.
“You curse a lot for someone who has issues with the word ‘fuck’,” I reply. For a moment our eyes meet, lingering. A corner of his mouth twitches briefly.
“Maybe. Language just seems so cheap, so trite, you know? Like, what’s the point of saying anything if words are just tossed around left and right, as if they mean literally nothing?” His voice cracks slightly at the last part. Aside from the anger in his tone, it’s evident that there’s an underlying trace of hurt in there as well. A personal justification for this tirade.
For a moment, we say nothing. A weighty, uncomfortable silence fills the room, expanding, until it feels almost tangible. The lack of words, I realize as my heartbeat starts to quicken, can be more intense than their presence.
I clear my throat, eager to dispel the increasing awkwardness. “You have a better solution? Like sewing everyone’s mouth shut so no one says anything at all?” He rolls his eyes, pointedly.
“Yeah, that’d be nice.”
“Then you wouldn’t be able to rant so much about your disdain for language,” I say with a smile. He emits a premature laugh, which dies quickly after its onset.
“It’s not that I disdain it. But, it’s like the Little Prince said — language is the source of all misunderstanding. He was right.” Immediately, I’m reminded of Mr. Whittler’s English class last year, when he whispered those very words out loud to us in his overdramatic, raspy voice, when the gravity of them sunk deep into each and every one of our hearts and stunned us into silence.
“Yeah.” I say quietly. The soothing pattering of the rain has stopped. I glance up, and see that the raindrops have since been replaced by tiny white specks that now make their way to the ground, unhurried, only to dissolve immediately upon touching the earth’s surface. I imagine what it must feel like to be outside, lying down on the cold grass, watching the endlessly white sky deposit its swirling, dainty crystals onto my cheeks.