It’s tricky to know when to override the conversations and actually start discussing. But somehow it begins.

“So, how did everyone like the book?”

We hurry to find our places, always in obscene deference to someone else. “No you take this chair.” “No, I insist, you take this chair.” And then someone ignores that formality of an opening question and goes for it. “What did you think the letter ‘A’  stood for anyway?”

“A,” says Mary, “ is for incest.” We’re glad for the one or two Marys of our group. They’re the critical readers. Not only did they read the entire book, they read a couple of criticisms to make us feel official. We need them because most of us, if we got that far, skimmed the ending.

We talk about the incest and eventually someone interrupts, because the person talking is stuck and can’t get out of her comment. “The double speak—it’s the scariest part. I mean, it’s scary. So frightening. I can’t imagine something like that. It terrifies me. The double speak, it’s scary.”

Help her, we all think.

Last time the host’s husband was in the backroom and called Levi to report. “Levi,” he whispered. “Do you know what goes on at these? Someone says something, they all giggle, and then they all start talking at once.”

“Find out what they’re talking about,” Levi says. He knows I’ll dance around those topics for the next week or so and wants to be prepared. “But do you really think we’re living deliberately?” I’ll say.

At some point we might try to get one of the silent readers—much like blog lurkers who never comment—to say something. They’ve been holding it in for so long that their comments are actually thoughtful. “If you’d stop talking,” they seem to be saying, “you’d realize that you missed the point entirely.” We nod our heads.

Eventually, we decide we’re done. We know because no one jumps to fill a conversation gap and instead, Mehrsa says something like, “Did you guys hear about that woman and her Chimp?” We all start talking at once, and bring up the 13-yr old in Britian who had a baby. “But he looks like he’s seven!” we say over and over.

Oh but it’s glorious to be a girl, I think. I come home from these nights, well past eleven, unable to communicate anything to Levi for at least twenty-four hours. “I have so much to tell you,” I say. It doesn’t come out coherently.

Why, I worry, isn’t he nodding his head at everything I say and jumping all over himself to validate?