Non-Glossophobic Glossophile Practicing Glossolalia, Glossing Over The Point

If you’re like a lot of people, you’re not really sure what that title means. If you haven’t read ahead and already know, then you should know that I am a sapiosexual and I want to have your babies. Logic and biology be damned.

Many of you suffer from glossophobia. In layman’s terms, it’s the fear of public speaking, which I do not have. In fact, I kinda enjoy getting up and performing. When I was 22 I had a relationship end and, with the wisdom only a twenty-two year old can muster, had closed off every other relationship and activity that I had had before I met the girl. This meant reinventing my life, something I have had to do a couple of times since. I decided to try my hand at improvisational comedy as a means of meeting people and being social.

I wasn’t so quick on my feet, mentally speaking, back then, and so I wasn’t very good at improv. With a little preparation, I could have you rolling in the aisles. But tossed a concept to respond to in real time, I would founder and flail. Part of the reason for that is that puns were verboten in the troupe that I participated in, and my go-to for being funny in those days was to rattle off a pun. That brings me to word number two in the title, so I’ll interrupt my story for a definition and likely another story. (Today is a very stream-of-consciousness writing day. By the time I get done with it, today’s blog post might be more about a cross-eyed lemur playing a double bassoon in a wind ensemble in Oslo than anything the title implies at present.)

A glossophile is someone who loves language. I’m a writer, it kind of goes with the territory. I love how language can be woven to produce different concepts and affectations, just with punctuation and inflection. I love how one word can remind you of another in a cascade of connections that synergize together. (Usually I hate corporate doublespeak, but that’s the word to use when the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.) But back to our story, where our intrepid hero, arms outstretched, cant pun. (Not a typo.)

One of the skits that our troupe would do was called “Five Things.” It’s essentially team charades. In this skit, one member of the four-person team would go backstage and don noise-cancelling headphones while the referee would ask for five things from the audience, then weird them all up. (Like a double bassoonist who’s a cross-eyed lemur in Oslo.) They’d call for the departed team member to return, and then the team would have three minutes to convey those five things using only body language and gibberish language. No actual words could be used. And hey, this is where word number three comes in.

Glossolalia is the use of nonsensical syllables in the manner of language. The end product sounds like some exotic foreign language, but doesn’t really mean anything.

I was complete pants at Five Things. I couldn’t convey anything. (“No,” I would think, “it’s not an airplane, it’s a seesaw.”) I couldn’t understand anything. (“What do you mean, it’s a seesaw? No, that’s an airplane, I’m sure of it.”) But I sure had fun.

Anyway, the improv gig led to an invitation to try out for a community theater production. I went hoping that I would just be in the chorus and could mouth the words and get away with it, but oh no, I got a part! And then the guy that had another part dropped out, so they asked me to take over that part instead. And I did. Only this wasn’t another bit part with a few lines and maybe one song, I was the second male lead and the lead voice in almost every ensemble piece there was. I was too busy and panicked to be scared. I just went with it and learned the new part the best I could.

I must have done well, because I won best actor for the theater that season.

Most recently, I would perform around campfires on the weekends I dress like a Viking, and I’ve received awards and won competitions for my performances. But my memory isn’t what it used to be and so I’ve been shying away from performing in the hopes that no one notices that I have trouble performing off-book. But that itch to perform is back, and I’m thinking on how best to scratch it.

I remember songs better than anything. Are there karaoke leagues?

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