Thursday, November 17, 2011

Learning The Love Code

Recently, I managed to finally find a bike helmet that was my size, on sale, and with a Snell safety rating high enough to satisfy Bruce. Then I climbed on the back of his bike and we took off. It was my first bike ride in twenty or more years and was both scary and exhilarating. I felt like Jessica in Carved In Stone going for her first ride with Will.

For those of who have never ridden, a unique thing about riding a motorcycle is that you can't talk to each other in most normal bike helmets. At first I thought not being able to talk was going to be a problem since I was the one on the back and completely out of the driving control loop, but then something very interesting happened in the first few minutes of the ride.

We developed a physical code, or in other words, a way to talk without talking.

Sitting behind Bruce, I learned to squeeze my knees on his hips to indicate my readiness for him to accelerate. My thumbs were hooked in handles on his jacket made for hanging on and I could squeeze his sides as well with my fingertips. Thirty minutes into the ride, we were having whole conversations with him pointing out scenes of interest and me squeezing to show him I understood. Then when we stopped at crossroads, he would reach back and pat my knee to indicate when we would be taking off again.

I could literally have ridden all day, not speaking in words. (I also quickly realized I could also easily retire my "thigh master" if I rode often enough as well, but that's another story.)

Anyway, our physical only communication made me realize that people in love who are truly intimate also use codes. They seem to be as unique as the couple is, though there are some generalities. People who have been married over ten years, and who really get along, talk more with their gazes than they do with mouths. Sometimes in fact the gazes say one thing, while the mouth is saying another. If you are paying attention, you can practically see the sarcasm floating in the air above their heads. They can have arguments, show amusement, or indicate a willingness for other more interesting physical activities with nothing more than the right "look" in their eyes.

I think I do that in my books, especially with the older couples. There is a scene in Created In Fire where Michael and Carrie are fighting about frozen yogurt bars and Shane is demanding to know what's up in the debate. Will and Jessica look at each other, have immediate and full comprehension, and have to turn their backs on the younger people in the room so their physical expressions don't give away their understanding. Well, that and Will was embarrassed a bit, as usual. The older couple is quiet for a long time during the fight until Jessica breaks the silent communication between them by teasing Will.

So in a way, talking in words can actually interfere with the code. Maybe that's what goes wrong in some relationships. Maybe it's just better at times to enjoy not talking, skip the sarcasm, and squeeze your knees when you're ready to accelerate.
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