The Goddess Speaks

By Suzanne Tswei

Tuesday, August 3, 1999

Silence speaks volumes

I'VE known my husband for almost 25 years. In that time, I've never known him to read a book that did not feature on its cover:

a) a very big submarine,

b) a very big submarine under attack,

c) a very big airplane,

d) a very big airplane under attack.

I could go on, but you get the idea. Then last week I found him reading a book with none of the above. Most astonishing, though, was that the cover was pink -- a very baby-girl kind of soft pink. I wondered what was going on.

"So, how do you like the book?"

"What book?"

"That book, the one in your hands."

"Oh, it's OK. You want it back now?"

"No, I just want to know how you like it."

"I told you already. It's not bad. If you want it back now, just say so."

No, I didn't want it back just then. I only wanted some information. For example, what grabbed his attention? Convenience? I got the book, "Makai," by Kathleen Tyau, in preparation for a writing assignment. It was sitting on the table next to the reading chair when he got up Sunday morning.

By the time I woke up, he was a good third into the book, and he didn't want to put it down. So, it must be good, right? But I wondered why a man who only had eyes for machinery and explosions all of a sudden finds the fictitious lives and loves of two women interesting.

YES, the setting for part of the novel is World War II, but there was no blood-and-gore war stuff. Mostly it was about the two women, their relationship with each other, their families, the men in their lives. I think the publisher got it right when they put a pink cover on it. It serves as a warning for men to stay away. I wanted to know why my husband didn't get the message.

"Maybe you like the characters in the book?"


"Tell me about them."

Silence. "Well, there's this girl." Silence. "She grows up." Silence. "What else you want to know?"

"What's her name?"

Silence. "I don't know." Silence. "I don't remember. Oh, yeah, there's this other girl, her friend. Don't ask me her name, because I don't remember that, either."

"How can you be reading the book and not know the names of the main characters?"

"Their names came up at the beginning of the book. I am almost at the middle now. I can't remember that far back."

"You can't remember?"

"Yes, that's right, I can't remember. Stop torturing me already."

With that, he threw down the book, got up from the chair and walked right into the dining table, as he has done a thousand times before when he thought he was on the losing end of a conversation.

"There, I hope you're happy! My toes are probably broken."

I did feel a lot better, and a little guilty. Nice to know some things don't change.

For the record, he didn't break anything. We went out to a nice dim sum lunch after our "discussion," during which he told me: "It's a good book. I can't explain it and I don't want to talk about it. Let's just eat."

Suzanne Tswei is a freelance writer.

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