A writer's blasphemous confession - Greg Gelpi

Make a statement without saying a word."

The words rung from the television as an advertisement pushed a local jewelry store. Express your undying devotion and affection by slapping down the plastic and buying a diamond or two.

Perhaps it's blasphemous for a writer to admit, but it occurred to me recently how much can be said without a word being spoken.

The slightest curl of the lips or glance of the eyes can convey as much and even more meaning as a string of carefully crafted and perfectly annunciated syllables.

My attention again diverted back to the television, appropriately referred to as the "idiot box," a rambling rapid-fire succession of inarticulate language catches my attention as I turn to pay homage with my attention and identify the foreign jabber.

Subtitles flash across the bottom of the screen, and images of the banjo player from "Deliverance" slip into my mind.

The "foreigner" is a backwoods kid from the states from an American television show on an American television station, yet the folks in some backroom deemed it necessary to plaster large white letters across the screen, and for good reason.

Despite the amount of words spewing from his mouth, not a word was communicated, except through the careful transcription by the subtitle people. A contrast to the original one-liner that prompted these thoughts, the boy failed to make a statement, despite saying a multitude of words.

It makes it all the more mystical then that words and complex ideas, such as thoughts and feelings, can be expressed without even a word. A mere glance or a fleeting involuntary mannerism can hold more meaning than communication itself.

I liken it to the story of Helen of Troy, known for having the "face that launched a thousand ships."

It was nothing she said in words, but it was something she said that transcended words and went beyond sounds seeping through her lips.

Books record that the look of her face sent forth the forces that waged the Trojan War.

Often, I catch myself joking with friends that not only am I a reporter, but I'm a trained observer. (I also joke that as a guy, I'm expected not to notice things.)

When asking for directions, I always warn people that if the destination is hot pink with blaring neon signs, I am, more likely than not, going to miss it. If, on the other hand, it's nestled inconspicuously without any markings or signs, I'll probably spot it right off.

Amidst these on again, off again lapses of perception, the ever-so slight facial gesture always beams brightly and grabs my attention.

The idea at times seems more real than the fabrication of a line or the turn of a verbal phrase.

So, as I fumble across the keyboard, I'll wipe the smirk from my face and endeavor to be a wordsmith and strive to capture the meaning and sentiment of other worldly expressions using worldly means.

Greg Gelpi covers education for the News Daily. He can be reached at ggelpi@news-daily.com or (770) 478-5753 Ext. 247.