( Saturday, March 22, 2008 )

"Quit Your Jibba-Jabba!"

I have a speech impediment. Not the kind I had as a kid, when my s's sounded like th's and my r's sounded like w's and my k's sounded like q's.

My modern speech impediment is somewhat more problematic: I talk nonsense.

I've been aware of it for some time now, unconsciously really, but enough to know something was amiss. It has recently, however, become painfully clear to me.

I think the problem can be best understood by breaking it down into three examples. Let me explain.

A) I start talking without being completely sure of what I'm ultimately trying to say. Which leads to unintelligible rambling with no gratifying payoff. In these situations I tend to start mumbling as soon as I know what I'm saying is meaningless. It provides an escape for both myself and my longsuffering audience -- I can "pretend" to continue with my story and they can "pretend" to care, while neither of us has to think about what's coming out of my mouth. (It has backfired at times, though, such as when my audience really is interested and asks me to repeat myself. I must then resort to honesty and admit, "I have no idea what I'm talking about. I am deeply sorry for robbing you and your future of those 10 minutes.")

B) I have an idea that I want to share, only to realize after I've opened my mouth that what I'm saying actually has no direct relationship to the conversation in progress. I'm often aware of it as soon as I start to talk, and must quickly either, 1) interrupt myself with a disclaimer that what I'm saying is completely off topic, or 2) somehow figure out a way, as words are giddily escaping my brain via my face, to adapt the story to the situation so that it seems applicable. This is the worst possible choice and the most often chosen, and leads to many awkward situations. (Please note: when someone has lost a close friend or family member and is seeking comfort from you, do not try to relate by telling them the story of your cat that was, as far as you know, eaten by a coyote -- no matter how much you loved that cat.)

And C) I realize after I start talking that what I was going to say wasn't nearly as funny/witty/interesting/life-changing as I had first imagined it, and I start to panic knowing that the person I'm talking to is expecting something funny/witty/interesting/life-changing. Or at the very least, coherent. When I know I'm sinking, and fast, I try to improvise (which leads me back to problem A) by haphazardly throwing random chunks of information into my diatribe, hoping I will somehow, through luck or sheer willpower, hit pay dirt and sweep my audience off his or her feet -- or cause such profound wonder that everything previously spoken is rendered unimportant and immediately forgotten in the shadows of this new fascinating turn in the conversation (of course, this has never successfully happened).

Curing a kid of his slurred and jumbled speech is a difficult, but doable feat. But curing an adult of his inability to carry on a comprehensible conversation? Can such therapy exist?
I can only hope, for the sake of those who have to listen to me--or pretend to.


Blogger Steph.s said...

Come one, Zoe was a great Cat and it was heart breaking when he died! Sniff! Sniff!

Love you bro!

10:38 PM  
Blogger RuthieStewart said...

Kyle...it happens to me all the time..:)

4:31 PM  

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