There’s something missing from my blog.
I’ve been reading a lot of blogs lately, which has led me to think a whole lot. Combine that with a little therapy and the time of year and, well, you end up with a very, very introspective Network Geek. So, while I’ve been introspecting and the other day, two things came to me about my blog and my life. There are two significant forces in my life that are missing here: the sound of my voice and cheerleaders. No, it’s not what you think. My interaction with cheerleaders has led to some of the most important realizations of my life. It’s still not what you think, but, that’s for another time.
Writers talk about finding their “voice” in their writing. Eventually, the writing books and pundits tell me, if you write enough, you will find your “voice”. But, that’s just not true. I’ve always had my voice, though it has changed over the years. It’s a voice I share with my older brother and my father. My mother used to say that when we were all in the same room talking she had a hard time telling us apart. In the end, she could only tell who was who based on how we used language. Over the years, that little family quirk led to some interesting conversations. Often times, I would answer the phone only to have someone address me by my father’s name and launch into conversation. “Oh, Bill, glad I caught you! Look, I have this problem and…” I learned some really interesting things about my father and the people he knew that way.
It wasn’t until I was in college that I really learned how to use that man’s voice. I was such child and, really, in so many ways I still am a little boy, but, somehow, I had the voice of a man fourty years my senior. In a lot of ways, it’s a good voice. Soothing, relaxing. Like the deep roar of the ocean heard from miles away, lulling the listener to a state of calm trust. It was in college that I learned to use that voice to relax people. Laying in a small, dorm bed, pressed up against someone so that she could feel the subsonic rumble in my chest like the purr of a big cat. Eventually, in the cold, dark hours, hypnotized by that soft, slow, reassuring voice the secrets would start to spill out. That voice was trustworthy, like the NSA. Information went in, but never came out. Safe, secure.
People seem to want to tell me everything when they hear me reassure them that it’s okay. That I want to listen, to hear. Even when I don’t say it, somehow, people hear that in my voice and volunteer so much of their lives. At my first real job after college, I remember sitting in an office on the night shift hearing all about the affair one of the Food and Beverage managers was having the the married man from another restaurant in the hotel. One or two simple, direct questions and the story just came flooding out, like I was a priest in a confessional.
Later, when I had to travel so much for my next job, I learned to bark like a drill sergeant. “Make a hole!” I’d bellow at the tourists who stopped at the end of the gangway, and they’d scatter, looking for the uniform. “Coming through! On your left!” And it was off in a hurry, always in a hurry those days, to get my luggage and meet up with the other consultant to scramble to the job site and get started. Or, it was a rush to get my luggage and get home, to laundry and my own comfortable bed. I’d learned to give orders to strangers and expect that they’d be obeyed without question, my voice deep and booming and endlessly confident. Then, I changed jobs again and I stopped shouting confidently at strangers.
But, I was an officer in my Masonic Lodge, so, now, the orders were to friends and Brothers. Tact was the thing, but the confidence had been weakened. Me? Give orders to men older than my father? Or, worse yet, give orders to my own father in Lodge? I was surprised that I was up to the task, but, my voice was there to support me. Even when I didn’t feel confident, my voice never wavered. I didn’t let any hint of the questions I felt creep into my voice. Strong and reserved and confident. My orders were carried out, for that year, and then I could step down.
Two women have fallen in love with my voice. At least, two that admitted it to me.
One night, my now ex-wife called me in my suburban Chicago apartment. But, she hung up when I answered. I called her back.
“Did you just call me?”
“Then why’d you hang up?”
“You didn’t sound like you.”
“Well, who did I sound like?”
“Honey? Who did I sound like?”
So, I laughed and said,”Probably. But, tell me anyway. Who did I sound like?”
“A…” She paused. “A large, black man.”
Of course, I laughed. A little, white guy like me, and she thought I sounded like Barry White on the phone. I couldn’t wait to tell my father who his future daughter-in-law thought we sounded like.
The other woman, well, she’s a different story all together. She’s never even met me, but she said she fell in love with that voice, that laugh. Even before she’d seen a picture of me. Then, it was those eyes. I have my father’s eyes, too. But, he and I both know that the eyes are nothing without the voice. It’s too bad I’ll never meet her.
I was almost a therapist once. I was accepted into the program, but bailed out. The reasons are many and complicated. The joke I’ve always told was that I got into computers instead, where I could fix the problems. Everyone always laughs, but, deep down, I know it’s true. I’d have had to fix my own problems before being any real use to anyone else. But, still, even today, when people hear my voice, it’s not long before they relax and tell me everything.
So, I listen to my father’s voice echo out of my mouth, reassuring them, and then, I just listen.