That Retard Sound

I’d like to apologize for the title of this post, but I can’t. And it’s very likely you know what I’m talking about, that guttural-sounding “duh” speech tone and inflection popularized by every comedian or dramatic actor portraying a certified idiot or mentally handicapped individual trying to vocalize anything at all. It’s like imagining what listening to a Neanderthal that’s been dropped on his head must have sounded like, or maybe a cartoon donkey having a laugh at another character’s expense.

So as I sat down in a restaurant to scarf down a quick bite at lunch, I heard it: that “retard” sound. It was so ridiculous that my first thought was that it was some kid making fun of someone, so I turned to see if the little creep was any “gift from God” himself. Nope, no kid, just a couple of tall ladies in line at the counter (who were facing away from me) and the people running the kitchen.

On a whim, I watched the two ladies take their orders and seat themselves. The older woman was a bit plain (likely “mom”) while the second was more striking, the kind of “babe” who kisses the winner of the big surfing contest: tall, tan, tone, and long sun-bleached hair, someone who would look right at home laying out on the beach professionally (sue me, I live in Florida).

Harrumph. Quick look around again… nope, no stupid little kid hanging around with a donkey laugh. I couldn’t have imagined that.

I resumed my meal when I heard it again, and there was no mistake this time: it was the beach babe! Just as quickly, I also realized that she was either all or mostly deaf from the way she and “mom” were signing to one another. That retard sound was her doing her best to talk, and there was nothing else to indicate she was challenged in any other way.

Am I allowed to blame a culture who has trained its population through entertainment that people who make that sound ought to be laughed at? While it was my intention to secretly scorn the unseen kid for being intolerant, I know I was secretly just passing my own guilt off for also finding it amusing before I knew who’d I’d be laughing at.

Now, I’m not sure which bothers me more: my own assumption or that I’ve just experienced the setup for a romantic comedy starring Jim Carrey.

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