girls talking Anna Waterhouse
Apple Thinks Again

"Conversely," Joan said, twirling her hair, "he never even goes through the motions of a really—" and that's when Apple lost track, at "really," because she had gotten stranded back on "conversely," wondering why Joan had used it, if she even knew what it meant, and was Joan the sort of person who would use a word just for effect without really grasping the definition, just as some people say "supposably" for "supposedly," though Apple was pretty certain that substituting one word for another was an altogether different proposition; and besides, how many people could there be, really, who understand with dictionary-like precision what most words mean and could therefore use language with any degree of authority — well, she had to assume there weren't many, especially since the population at large has a barely adequate comprehension of their mother tongue to begin with — but Apple was hardly able to enjoy the fact that her musings had taken on a distinctly sociopolitical bent when Joan suddenly reined her back in with the word "sex," as in, "He never even wants sex when he's feeling that way," which naturally made Apple wonder, "Which way is that?" but of course she couldn't ask without revealing that she hadn't been present and accounted for, that a whole slew of words had flown right by her ears without her hearing a single one, and that she was now in the awkward position of having to listen that much more intently, of trying to find her way back, her body rocking ever so slightly to and fro, a movement imperceptible to the naked eye, perhaps, but in her own brain feeling much as a child who waits her turn at jump rope, using sight sound nuance shading anything at hand to leap in somehow, hoping Joan would drop a clue, any clue, or that she herself would find a break in the action that would allow her to sit once again amongst the cognoscenti; but of course Joan never did, never even took a breath, her words butting up against each other like drunken revelers in a conga line, which was the most frustrating thing about Joan, the way she held court, talking for minutes that felt like hours, sometimes about virtually nothing at all, so that by the time she got to something really juicy (which she tended to do on occasion, Apple had to give her that), Apple was in such a stupor from sheer volume that she could only sit there dumbly, replaying in her mind how Joan had just described the most trivial things in maddening detail a particularly adorable gabardine jacket on sale at Hinshaw's, say, or all the things on her to-do list she had accomplished that day, including vacuuming, for God's sakes! — so that the choice tidbits would slip by unnoticed, and Apple would find herself mentally asking, "What was that? What was that?" while repeating "Uh-huh, uh-huh" like a human metronome waiting to feel a part of it again, because isn't that the bottom line, the nexus of friendship, if you will, feeling a part of someone else's life no matter how trivial or downright boring at times; though Apple had to wonder why some people seem to have absolutely no sense of audience, no sense that their own inconsequential lives don't make for good fodder, not to mention why — and this was the most infuriating part of all — the most consistent talkers are rarely the best listeners because, try as she might, Apple couldn't remember the last time Joan had ever really listened to her ...but what was that Joan just said, something about a nervous breakdown? ...damn, she'd missed it again, and all because Joan could talk on and on like that when she herself –Apple– was always so terrified of boring people that she hardly ever spoke at all and when she did, she mostly asked questions, which of course was why her relationship with Joan worked so beautifully when another personality type might've just hit Joan over the head with the nearest available brick and simply walked away.

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