Not slurring is preferable to slurring.  We all know that.  Or is it?  If many of us weren’t so sensitive, many slurs would not be slurs.  The latins in South America speak in what we’d call slurs but it’s normal talk to them.  For example, they routinely call black people black and fat people fat.  In today’s political and social climate in the U.S., that is almost forbidden.  For the many countries where they tell is like it is, neither the speaker nor the receiver is bothered.  But to many of us, it would be considered a slur.

In Brazil, Colombia, Peru, (few examples only) people regularly address a black person negro or negra — el negro or la negra.  Similarly, they will address a heavy person as gordo or gorda — el gordo or la gorda.  If we tried that in the US, we’d be branded either racist or insensitive.  It would be considered a slur.  Our societal egos have become extremely sensitive to any perceived infraction.

I’m particularly given to slurs of late.  It’s the slurring of speech caused by a sometimes fat and uncontrollable tongue.  At times, it gets downright embarrassing.  From one minute to the next, it feels like I can’t speak correctly, like I’m slurring.  Even though I’ve been complaining about my deformed neck, the internal swelling that causes difficulty breathing and talking are equally frustrating.

The only person I can compare myself to is M. Douglas, as he had the same size/location of tumor that I had.  What I don’t understand is why he doesn’t have the screwed up neck or speech issues while I, who had a more curable tumor and lucky enough to be with first-rate medical care, still have such problems.  Maybe because he’s a tad more popular has something to do with it.

Still, I think it comes back to the hot liquid comparison.  The doctors didn’t give this much value but I think it’s everything.  The fact that my mouth and tongue have always been much more sensitive to heat (than most), coupled with a much more aggressive brachytherapy treatment than most, made my symptoms worse than most.  If I’m wrong, no one in the medical community has given me a better answer.  Only that “everyone’s different.”  Of course everyone’s different.

Even though I can hear myself speak, I don’t know how the speech is received.  Since the operation in February, my voice sounds like a different voice in my head.  I have noticed that many more people say “sorry?” or “what?” or “excuse me”? asking me to repeat what I’ve just said.  That can only mean that I’m not speaking clearly.

Just like this morning.  It’s my last day on this trip before heading home tonight.  I’m in the hotel dining room having breakfast and I asked the waiter for two eggs sunny-side up.  He says, “so sir, you’d like an omelet with cheese?”  My first reaction was to say, ‘look nice Indian boy, if you want to work in the restaurant business, it would be a good idea to clean the smegma out of your ears before taking orders.’  But of course I didn’t.  That would have been a slur.  And he wouldn’t have understood immediately.  Then I realized I was probably slurring and it was me who wasn’t speaking clearly, not his ears.

How he heard omelet with cheese from two eggs sunny-side up convinced me that I’ve got to forget worrying about slurs.  Let the slurs just roll off.  Moreover, perhaps I should intentionally slur more often.  Yes nice Indian boy, you made my day.  From now on I will care about my slurs no mo.

3 thoughts on “slurring

  1. Stryker Warren jr.

    Fred: I hope your trip was productive and that you arrive home in great shape; your travelogue was very interesting and enjoyable. Best, swjr

  2. Meredith

    In Costa Rica they use the same slurs of negro, gordo, and even flaca, and also any asian person is called chino – even if they’re not chinese. it’s like people calling red-heads “red” – an identifiable trait becomes your nickname. makes sense.


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