‘You’re muted’ doesn’t always apply

“You’re muted.” On Friday, March 13, 2020, I would have had no idea of what you were speaking if you said to me, “You’re muted.” But, on...



“You’re muted.”

On Friday, March 13, 2020, I would have had no idea of what you were speaking if you said to me, “You’re muted.” But, on that day, I remember that I went to my local grocery store and did an enormous shopping. I filled three carts for my house and my 90-year-old mother’s household. I did not hoard anything; I just bought a huge variety of many items.

On that day, I also remember walking down the paper product aisle and seeing an entire section of toilet paper. Wanting to leave some for other people, I took five rolls. (I knew Mom had some for herself in her linen closet.) Talk about the road to hell being paved with good intentions … I would not have guessed that toilet paper would disappear or that I would have to put the call out when I was down to my last roll. I put that message on Facebook: “Down to my last roll.” And, without explanation, everyone knew of what I was speaking. Later that night, when I went to put out our trash, a half dozen rolls were stacked in the corner of our back porch. My neighbors, who were “friends” with me on Facebook, had come through.

I just checked my diary — I have kept a journal for 30 years — and see I am correct on the date of that shopping trip. Well, anyway, running out of toilet paper here, in the land of plenty — let’s actually call it what I think it is, the land of excess — was surprising to me.

You’re muted. No toilet paper. March 13 on … became a different world.

One more thing. Before that March 13, Zoom was a PBS television show my daughter watched in the mid/late 1970s. It immediately followed Sesame Street in the late-afternoon. That was ideal because I could prepare dinner while she watched television, good television. She in the den; me, in the kitchen. I can still the theme song:

Come on and zoom, zoom, zoom, zoom, zoom …

Now Zoom is the anchor to my existence. Anchor, rhetorically, being a good thing in this case. Zoom allows me to still stay connected to the most important aspects of my life, my own life, not time intertwined with the lives and needs of those who rely on me, like my friends, neighbors, family. Mine, all mine. I have my Monday morning writing group from 9 until noon on Zoom. I have my French tutoring session with Ingrid on Zoom from 4 to 5 each Wednesday afternoon. I have my French class from 5:30 until 7:30 each Thursday night. It is supposed to take place from 5:30 until 7, but monprofesseur Sabine always runs over.

Almost immediately, I started to notice the backgrounds behind people on Zoom. A lot of news commentators work from home now, so I study their backgrounds. They are usually seated in front of bookcases. A lot of these commentators have the book/books they have written prominently displayed.

I never put much thought into my background until, during one of my French classes, my classmate Robert questioned why mon aspirator, my vacuum, was standing just behind me. That was kind of ironic because for a couple of months, I had noticed that the lampshade, behind my other classmate Gary, was incredibly crooked. I wanted to reach into my computer screen and straighten it. Week after week, I wondered why he never noticed it.

Finalement, finally, an opportunity presented itself. On Nov. 12, during a lesson on pronouns used with two verbs, we came across a sentence that read, Nous venons de changer les abat-jour du salon — We just changed the lampshades in the living room.

“Gary,” I said. “Ton abat-jour est courbé.” “Courbé?” Gary questioned. I pointed behind him as I pantomimed my hand moving on an angle, “Ton abat-jour.” He laughed, rose from his chair, and straightened out the shade. My class laughed and returned to sentence No. 4.

This morning, I looked behind me and saw a pile of laundry stacked on my bureau. (The back bedroom of our two-bedroom home is my office. William has the finished basement downstairs as his room.) This morning I decided to improve my own background. I took the vase of flowers from our shared bedroom and put in on my bureau. I took a book from my bookshelf and stood it beside the vase. What book? A book written by a fellow writer in this Monday morning writing group, “The Boy Who Loved Windows,” by Patricia Stacey. I remembered the evening I bought her book, at a book-launching party at her home. This morning, I open to the cover page and read, “To Barbara, You are so important to my life as a writer. Thanks, Pat.”

This morning, as this year nears its end, I am grateful, grateful I still am able to hold on to what is important to me. This morning, as this year ends, I see how “you’re muted” does not always apply.

Barbara A. Rouillard is a resident of Springfield.



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Newsrust: ‘You’re muted’ doesn’t always apply
‘You’re muted’ doesn’t always apply
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