There are some things about me that I canâ€™t tell you.
Iâ€™m talking about speech, not secrets.
There are some things about me that Iâ€™m not capable of telling you because words ruin them.
I resisted my name for years. Until I was about five, I refused to say my name that is really my middle name, my second name, my momâ€™s afterthought. Itâ€™s only one of many names Iâ€™ve had, but knowing it leads you into a maze of incorrect assumptions. Did I know that at age three? Maybe. If I had been named like my preschool friend, Summer, maybe I wouldnâ€™t have been so silent when the other kids asked my name.
Iâ€™m the shy kid swinging alone on the playground while the other kids play on the monkey bars.
At twelve, I must have misspoken to my best friendâ€™s rabbi. â€œAre you Jewish?â€ he asked me as I sat by her at Hebrew school.
â€œYes,â€ I said.
â€œWhatâ€™s your name?â€ he asked, kind, hopeful.
His face fell when I told him. Confusion furrowed his brow, shock glimmered in his eye. â€œDonâ€™t you know what that means?â€ he asked.
Yes, I did. Of course I do.
Iâ€™m a Jewish girl who can never say her name in a synagogue.
On my honeymoon, thrilled to be in Paris, I tried out my conversational skills at our first dinner. The waiter turned my question into a little joke, Iâ€™m pretty sure a pun at my expense. After that I stopped speaking except in emergencies, preferring to remain still and silent as much as possible. Silent, the waiters were much more polite.
Iâ€™m French, but only when Iâ€™m absolutely silent.
There have been more times when speech has betrayed me. It definitely did in grad school. There was a night long ago in a crummy motel room. Every time Iâ€™m driven to yell at my kids, speech stabs me in the gut.