We Talk Funny

Yesterday I related to you the exhaustion working and living with other people for a straight week can have on you. But I didn’t tell you about the side effects this kind of co-habitation can have: in a broad sense, you become a kind of dysfunctional pseudo-family, with just as many breakdowns but fewer death threats.
Meals, bedtimes and entertainment choices become a group concern, with certain voices gaining more (or less) authority as individuals adjust into the roles in the new norm.
However interesting that might seem, I’m not going to talk about the politics or power plays of a filmmaker commune, because the most interesting effect of our arrangement – to me, at least – was what happened to everyone’s voices.
I’m talking about voices in a sense of character, you understand; we didn’t all develop bronchitis or inhale a bunch of helium that resulted in us all acting like we were in some obscure fringe play.
I’ve often wondered what Joss Whedon meant in Buffy and Angel commentaries when he said that the dialogue in those shows wasn’t necessarily stylised, more that it was just the way he and the other writers spoke to each other. Now I know.
Over the course of the last week there have been a few idiosyncratic phrasings and repetitions in a person’s language that the rest of us seem to have subconsciously picked up on and adopted into our own speech. I probably couldn’t tell you who started what, but I can give you an example:
“Do a [blank]” became a pretty popular term within the house. This phrase could pretty much incorporate any action, relying on the grammatical incorrectness of whatever form of verb or noun you’ve chosen. “Do a film”, “do a sleep”, “do a collapse” – you name it, we do-a’d it. “Do a go” was a popular one, and “do a toilet” was a personal favourite.
So we’d developed this interpersonal shorthand that must crop up in any frequent-contact relationship, except it had happened to us in a matter of days, due (I assume) to our constant proximity to one another and the necessity of having to get along.
Not that it would have been difficult to get along with people I quite enjoy the company of without spouting nonsense at one another, but you get what I’m saying.
Most of us have these secret codes between one another that, most of the time, we’re not even aware of until other people pick up on it. And even then, they probably wouldn’t mention it because it would just highlight their alienation. And who wants to make their friends think they’re an alien?

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