Gotta Run, Gotta Go

by Janice Levy

"Gotta go. Really, gotta go."

We run like gingerbread cookies. Talk is cheap.

"Gotta pick up—" "Gotta drop off —" "Gotta buy—" "Gotta sell—"

Should you catch someone in mid-sprint, you’ve got ten seconds to dump your load, less if her cell phone has voice dial. "My trip was the best, our new house is the biggest, my kid is the smartest and gotta go ’cause I’m the busiest!"

First they took away record albums. Then thank you notes. How long before conversation is silenced? "Have a nice day" really means "next in line!" "Take care," stands for "I don’t look that old, do I?" Even "Long time no see, how are you?" is ponderous, like being online without a DSL connection. And, honestly, who cares? You’re three months late with a vasectomized mate, your portfolio’s plotzed, your kids are peeing on the plants in preschool. How’s she doing? Even ’whassup? is risky. After all, it’s your SUV that was stolen, your pooch who poached Mother-in Law’s Fendi bag, your 14 year old who caught poison ivy from Landscaper Guy who swore he was somebody’s famous cousin that’s really whassup.

Better to stick with a simple, "Hey." You get a "hey" back and you jog up the deli line unhindered, beep the maid to verify she wants her turkey sliced lean and hey, off you go. Besides, who needs a face-to-face when e-mail and faxes enable us to chat naked, pick our teeth, and make alien noises, while watching "The Beat" and doing tai-bo.

But what about those moments of oral weakness, when your jaw hangs from its hinges in longing? Get your nails done. While you’re a hand-held hostage, words fly as to who’s been foreclosed, foreplayed, what’s been lipoed, lasered, where it’s been tucked and tapered. This version of rap, called "Yenta Yap," is People Magazine and Regis without the reading glasses and Cody-envy. But, don’t get too cocky. Even this doesn’t last. Just when you’re zen-ing on the poetry of words, it’s up and at ’em. Gotta run, gotta go. Biceps to buff, swings to stroke, frown lines to freeze. Take-out to be taken in, parties to throw, stuff to throw out, meals to throw up.

Even though conversation will soon be deader than Kathy Lee and naval rings, it’s good to keep a few snippets hidden under your Pashmina. Grab the moment when stalled in an elevator, make eye contact on the subway without scratching your privates, share your barf bag on your next flight. "How about those Dodgers? Remember Vietnam? What’s going on with Hillary Swank’s mouth?" Filofaxes and palm pilots will appear. Eyebrows will be plucked. You compete with earplugs and nightshades. But maybe you'll get lucky.

Don’t get too discouraged. After all, they brought back Disco. I’d say more, but I gotta run, gotta go. Really.

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