By Chris Miskiewicz
They came in and sat at the first empty table they saw. They moved with a shuffle of shopping bags, oversized bracelets, and loose fitting clothes that only women with long brown straight hair in 1970’s beach movies should ever really wear. Still, despite my sense of style and fashion, they sat beside me.
I was deep into typing something that no one would ever read when I pulled out one of my earphones to hear the blonder one say, “It was like…” which caused me to immediately push the earphones back in.
I took in a breath and stared at their lips. Now, I’m a pretty decent lip reader, but all I could make out was “It was like” with the rest of their words coming out like a flutter of bird wings that I couldn’t understand.
Suddenly the Blonder one screamed “Oh My God! It was like, I don’t know, you know?” in a voice that made me think she was having an orgasm while being stabbed.
“Yeah!” Less Blonde said.
“Of course,” I thought. “It’s so very clear now.”
I turned up the volume on the moody chords Trent Reznor was making in my ears. What was it like I wondered? What could have happened that was so hard to describe? So hard to find the words for? What generational calamity could have occurred to make an entire subsection of Americans unable to express themselves beyond a collective phrase?
Or was that my answer? Was it easier for us to group our sayings and wants together, because we had lost our individuality, because we weren’t that unique? Did we become too connected and now used our similarities to glaze over the meaning to our words and moments?
She continued saying her catch phase over and over again without ever giving a definition to what it was that she was speaking about. Was it about being cute? Or the inflection? Or the manner in which she said it? How come other generations were able to express themselves?
Was it like my friend Martin’s grandfather who’s job during WWII was to knock unexploded ordinance out of his bomber with a metal hammer? He was eighteen. It was forty below in the plane. His hands trembled with every hit, because the shell could detonate and kill them.
Was it like when my Grandfather Salvatore passed out on the stock market floor when he was eighteen, only to reawaken three days later in a hospital bed watching rain hit the window, but unable to hear the sound because he went deaf from spinal manigitis?
“It was like, Oh My god!” the blonder one screamed out like breaking glass.
So I closed my computer, packed it into my bag, and slowly stood while counting. I pulled my coat on and stared down at them. They looked up at me for a quick second, uncomfortable, unable to cope with a person. I grimaced and blinked. I couldn’t help myself. I had to.
“Excuse me. I’m sorry to intrude on your thought filled conversation, but do you know that you just said the word ”Like” sixty-three times while I put my coat on, and in those sixty-three times you did not once tell your friend the point of your story. Maybe you should just say what you mean? It would probably be quicker?”
“Have a nice day. LOL.”