Several years ago, my brother J coined what has become an eminently useful phrase in my repertoire: spaghetti language. Spaghetti language is what you speak when you’re half-asleep and you think you’re having a real conversation but actually are spewing gibberish. (The phrase, naturally, was coined in spaghetti language: J was trying to have a conversation with his wife and me, but it wasn’t working, and finally in frustration he said, “I thought I was awake but I wasn’t awake and I was talking spaghetti language,” as though that cleared everything up.)
I’ve gotten a lot of mileage out of the phrase because, as it happens, I am particularly fluent in spaghetti language. Mr Machine has recorded my best examples for posterity. Spaghetti language has a rhythm of its own, with conversational peaks and troughs and, weirdly enough, often with punchlines. So, for example, after one particularly long monologue, I told Mr Machine:
I’m gonna go get some, uh, fat cat power in my pants. You know how it goes, you know.
The wonderful thing about spaghetti language is that you can often have what sounds, syntactically, like actual conversations, and the surrealism will spin out ever more wildly. For this reason, Mr Machine and I do all in our power to keep spaghetti conversations going if one of us is in dreamland and the other is wide awake. We carried on the following conversation after I had fallen asleep on our couch one night a couple years ago:
SM: My name is made of balloons, and my couch is made of triangles.
[Mr M somehow manages to get me to the bathroom to brush my teeth.]
SM: If I were marshmallows, would I get to have a marshmallow face?
Mr M: But your couch is made of triangles.
SM: No it’s not. My head is made of marshmallows.
And, my greatest personal achievement in spaghetti language:
SM: What what what?
Mr M: Sorry to wake you.
SM: What’s going on?
Mr M: I’ve been up reading this book.
SM: What’s going on?
Mr M: I’m going outside for a cigarette.
SM: But what about my dreams of making an ultimate lemon machine?
After hearing about this exchange, my friend found us a picture of what he believes may be, in fact, the ultimate lemon machine.
As you can see, my extensive training in poetics has paid off; even in my sleep, I am a wordsmith of uncommon vision. Nonetheless, if there is a champion of spaghetti language in my household, it is unquestionably Mr Machine, due to one now legendary conversation early in our relationship, on a rare night when he fell asleep before I did:
Mr M: If we start eating each other’s arms now, we’ll get to the shoulder at the same time.
SM: But your arms are longer than mine!
Mr M: You’ll just have to eat faster.
SM: Won’t that hurt?
Mr M: [gleefully] Not me!
I cannot describe to you the malicious delight with which he uttered that last phrase. Relentlessly logical, even in sleep.
What’s your best conversation in spaghetti language? Entertain us in the comments!