…was a doll who talked. I talk a lot too. I use most punctuation very sparingly. When I write I slap it all out in one spewing current. Then I go back and try to imagine where normal people might feel the need to breathe, to take a little break. I make an exception for exclamation points. It is extremely challenging for me to write more than a few sentences without using at least one. I prefer three. I am an easily excitable person, prone to being more or less incredulous, exasperated, scandalized. At times horrified, often overjoyed. Rarely angry or indignant. I am shocked all the time by the beauty of a falling leaf or the cruelty of an angry bus driver.
I never really had my own Chatty Cathy Doll. My grandmother had one at her house that all of us grandchildren shared. She was a really big doll, about the size of a real four-year old. If I remember right her hair would grow if you pulled it. Her vocabulary was rather limited but she did speak, nonetheless. She would say, “I am hungry,” “I’m tired,” or “I love you.” Funny how what is the most basic level of language skills is also the most intimate. Twenty years later when I was seriously learning French, not just to be glamorous but because I really intended to speak it in everyday situations, I was struck with the same realization. The base of a language conveys intimate physical needs, basic desires, life-sustaining messages. The mastery of a language is perhaps found in how skillfully you can conceal what is natural, how cleverly you can disguise all that is close to primal necessity.
Maybe how well-versed we are can be measured in the distance between what we are saying and what we really need.