Merry and her Tough Foe
In the first few years after we met, I always assumed that Merry was such because she had lived almost in total isolation, in the coastal town of Caen, having for companies only the querulous seagulls and the hardy descendants of the ferocious Normands. Where she took residence was once the fiefdom of William the Conquerors and his Viking relatives. She gave birth to her sons in a hospital that looks out to the desolate seacoast of Normandy, from which the Allied had landed and from which a fierce battle was fought, destroying most of Caen. The love that Merry had hoped from her marriage was quickly chilled by the icy windstorms bearing down from the open sea. Even when she could converse with someone, back then, she felt unsatisfied. How could she compete with the eternal murmurs of the waves in the background, the shrill cries of the swooping white birds, the constant "ding ding" interruption of the door chime each time a customer walk through? From the disrupted talk, Merry looked up and quickly assumed a benign and courteous smile, her chain of thoughts fragmented that instant. It was then by habit and necessity that Merry learned to resume her dialogue in mid-air, linking together pieces that were neither heads nor tails.
Merry speaks like a court transcriber tapping at 120-words per minute, blindly, quickly, mindlessly. She chases after her vaporous thoughts and catches the elusive shape of an idea to fling it out triumphantly, joyous at the magical transformation of her mind's abstract objects into waves of uninterrupted sounds, which she can share with someone else, which she can part from the recesses of her musings. Only then she becomes peaceful, content. She have given what she had longed to give, a piece of her mind, an opinion, her part of the story.
Merry's unsatiated desire for speech did not lessen even when Merry packed up and left Caen. It accentuated at the boundless opportunities Merry had with living on the same continent as her siblings, us. Although French is no longer useful in this side of the ocean, far from the Norman Vikings, Merry's verbal enthusiasm did not dampen. It took one week for Merry to find back all the nuances of her mother tongue to participate, to dominate, in any social gatherings.
It has never crossed Merry's mind that having a flexible tongue she would one day struggle with any particular language. Sure, Merry was mildly encumbered by her newly acquired English. When she could not find the words to express herself fully, Merry gesticulated and filled in the blank space of her sentence with another Latin language, assuming that the similarity in the words' appellation would make up for her strange pronunciation. Anyway, Merry was constantly the speaker, so there was no time for the listener(s) to squeeze in to demand further clarifications, but to look on captivated by Merry's passionate voice and her wild gestures. Sometimes, in her feverish babbles, Merry absentmindedly held on tightly to both hands of her "prisoner in speech" until the person frightfully extracted them out to be disengaged. Even then, Merry did not relent easily.
Speech only became a problem for Merry, poor soul, when she was required to take an oral test, that Merry referred to as her "Tough Foe". "I am given only TWO minutes to complete my thought. Two minutes ... Faster than the time to distill alcohol," Merry claims astonishingly. "What can one say in two minutes, you tell me. It is impossible! By the way, did I tell you about the husband of my neighbor's neighbor's sister. He has a car, an old Toyota. His daughter came home the other day ....."