Tuesday, February 14, 2006

the quiet world

To alt+t+w fanatics everywhere.

The Quiet World

In an effort to get people to look
into each other's eyes more,
the government has decided to allot
each person exactly one hundred
and sixty-seven words, per day.

When the phone rings, I put it
to my ear without saying hello.
In the restaurant I point
at chicken noodle soup. I am
adjusting well to the new way.

Late at night, I call my long
distance lover and proudly say
I only used fifty-nine today.
I saved the rest for you.

When she doesn't respond, I know
she's used up all her words
so I slowly whisper I love you,
thirty-two and a third times.
After that, we just sit on the line
and listen to each other breathe.

-- Jeffrey McDaniel

eta: You guys might like this triviabulous op-ed in today's NYT (one-time registration may be required, which you should get so that you can, you know, read the NYT for free):

Snails caress each other with their antennae, birds touch beaks, and many mammals lick each other's snouts. Chimpanzees even give platonic pecks on the lips. But only humans and our lascivious primate cousins the bonobos engage in full-fledged tongue-on-tongue tonsil-hockey.

The Kiss of Life, by Joshua Foer.


  1. alt+t+w is from Microsoft Word, I presume. It had me stumped for a while :). The same combination of strokes seems to have entirely different effect in different software :).

    Hi, I've been reading this blog since the day it was mentioned on Desipundit. Wonderful literati. And you know, it's easy to become conscious (about one's english) on this blog even while commenting :).

  2. Alt-t-w did you say? Ah. The good old SoPing days.

    - Kray, I bet you counted them! What is a third of "I love you" ? Just "I"? Or you know, "I lc".

  3. @ prateek: pathetic, pathetic Mr. Agrawal! 'cos I actually didn't, and had no clue wat u were talking abt for a while there :P. I shall land up to collect the proceeds of the bet shortly :D

  4. Tonsil hockey? Hmm, that's a new perspective :-) Putting the gag on some people wouldn't be such a bad idea now, would it?

  5. @ kray: Isn't it just?

    @ chetan: Thanks much for dropping by! As for alt+t+w, it does take an MS Word fanatic to get it without puzzling it out, I guess. I count EVERYTHING I write. Very bad for me.

    @ prateek: I lc is two words! Not intelligible, but two all the same.

    @ ghost: Putting the gag on some people, yes. But they are the people one would least want to kiss, ordinarily.

  6. Oh no no, I lc are to be read as letters; two and a two-third of them to be precise. Well, you could count spaces as well, but you'll be hard pressed to find a character that looks like one-third o.

    Ne'er mind.