Holly: Hey Gram, guess what I’m doing this summer? I’m going to this music festival thing in the city!
Gram: Ohh! Are you! Here, tell the nurse what you’re doing this summer:
Holly, dutifully: I’m going to Outside Lands this summer.
Gram: What’s that it’s called? Outside Lanch?
Holly: Outside Lands. Outside Lands.
Gram: Is that right. [informatively; not joking] It’s very musical, I hear. From what I understand.
Holly, trying not to laugh: I hope so.
Gram & Holly: [conversation]
Gram: So does that boy ever talk to you?
Holly: Yeah, we’re really good friends, I’m going to be living with him for a month this summer, actually.
Gram: Ohh! Maybe there’ll be pinchin’ or somethin’! Pinch ‘is butt, maybe then he’ll know what you want.
This one time, my gram told me that she and my grandpa didn’t consummate their marriage until after he came back from the war (WWII, not Vietnam; my dad was in Vietnam. My parents are kind of old), because he couldn’t perform on their wedding night.
The language of Ayapaneco has been spoken in the land now known as Mexico for centuries. It has survived the Spanish conquest, seen off wars, revolutions, famines and floods. But now, like so many other indigenous languages, it’s at risk of extinction.
There are just two people left who can speak it fluently – but they refuse to talk to each other. Manuel Segovia, 75, and Isidro Velazquez, 69, live 500 metres apart in the village of Ayapa in the tropical lowlands of the southern state of Tabasco. It is not clear whether there is a long-buried argument behind their mutual avoidance, but people who know them say they have never really enjoyed each other’s company.
“They don’t have a lot in common,” says Daniel Suslak, a linguistic anthropologist from Indiana University, who is involved with a project to produce a dictionary of Ayapaneco. Segovia, he says, can be “a little prickly” and Velazquez, who is “more stoic,” rarely likes to leave his home.
I have this bad habit of falling asleep mid-conversation. It doesn’t happen that often anymore, but back in early high school when I used to have a lot of sleepovers and before I used to be able to pull all-nighters like a champ, I would often, while in bed with friends, start a sentence while awake, fall asleep halfway through, and finish the sentence in my sleep. I would still be vaguely aware that I was talking, but I didn’t really have any control over what was coming out of my mouth.
This one time, it was really late, and I was lying on top of my bed with Rue and our other friend, and I fell asleep in the middle of our conversation.
"Wouldn’t it be weird if we had parties every night and then burned the bodies?" I mumbled.
There was a pause. Then—
“What?!" the friend shrieked, horrified, tone bubbling with nervously amused (but mostly just appalled) laughter.
I fully woke up from my state of about 3/4 sleep & 1/4 consciousness with a sense of desperately wanting to kick myself in the mouth and dawning self-shame/dread/realization that, no, it’s not okay to say things like that, Holl.
"Oh. I just said something really weird, didn’t I?"
Vigorous nods, raised eyebrows, and side-eying from both Rue and the other friend, who started cackling wildly.
Me: Remember when we went to the brokeback reading? Holly: That is like asking, “Remember being alive?”
We went to a reading of Brokeback Mountain our sophomore year. Needless to say, we were nowhere near mature enough to handle the content. We died laughing. Hardest I’ve ever laughed in my life.
We were all excited because we’d loved the movie SO MUCH and then we found out there was going to be a reading of the short story and we went and after she dropped us off Rue’s mom ( whom Rue calls Mum <3 because she’s Canadian) texted us saying, “Have a gay time!” and that made us laugh and we were like the only people younger than about 60 years old there and then the readers started reading it and when they got to the sex bit I kicked Rue’s chair and we were so out of our league and we were practically giving ourselves aneurysms trying not to explode and then there was an intermission and we burst out of the bookshop and literally (keep in mind that when I say “literally” I actually mean “literally”) sprinted down the street and around the corner, where we died laughing for about 74 years.