The first time it happened, we had been racing the Lightning in Ecuador. Our first World Championship together, and we'd nearly won.
Despite our big swing-and-a-miss at the top spot, I was pretty happy about the races. We'd sailed well, we'd had beer on the boat (to the dismay and envy of our competitors), a disposable camera (to the distraction and dismay, etc.), and Pappa Joe had cheered on his youngest son from a spectator boat. So -- the hangover and the crack-o-dawn bus-run to Guyaquil, where the airport was mobbed because of the eruption of volcano Tingurahua in Quito? No big. We shouldered through rafts of American tourists like Stanley Cup heroes in a flying wedge, carrying our ginormous silver cups high.
The exotic, husky, cheerleader-after-the-big-game-thing that happened to my voice seemed funny at first. It was like channeling Kathleen Turner by way of Tobey Maguire. Then came the fever and the last of my voice. Laryngitis. In the Miami airport. While we were delayed. I'd open my mouth, push air and zip, nada, nuttin. Like a cat meowing on the outside of a window.
I was forced to answer everything in a conspiratorial whisper. Had I packed my own bag? Had it been in my possession the whole time? Had anyone unknown to me asked me to carry anything?
It was not so awful, having my husband take the public reins at the airport: he ordered me ginger ale, hot tea, soup. He interpreted my breathy single-word comments, and answered for me when people asked about the ginormous silver cup I was carrying.
Finally home, after I called Mumsie to check in -- which went, predictably enough like this:
"Hi Mom, we're home."
"Hi Mom! We're home!"
"Who is this?"
"It's me, Amy. We're home!"
"Why are you whispering? Are you okay?"
Mr. Linton was obliged to make the rest of the check-in calls. It was for him to answer questions about our trip, the racing, the spectacular devaluation of the local currency, that unsuccessful morning when we went hunting marlin. I hovered nearby, trying to transmit by lip-reading the things I wanted to add or ask. He made me a doctor's appointment, but it took days for the voice to come back.
In the meanwhile, I helped my sister at an art show, pinning a note to my shirt that read: "I can't talk." At home, if someone telephoned, I could only stare helplessly at the machine. As a fan of the blather, patter, chit-chat, random singing, and jibber-jabber, it was kind of a nightmare.
It turns out I am one of those people who get laryngitis. Every year or so I'll enjoy a husky-voiced day and then a rustic spell of speechlessness punctuated with the sound of nails being pried from heart-pine. It happens often enough to remind me of how awful it feels to be to be silenced and barred from expressing an opinion. Censorship bites. Even when that opinion is tiny and bland, an opionionette.
Evidently, however, it's a lesson that bears repeating. Darned old dharmic justice.
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