One of the first times I experienced embarrassment with my ability to speak, select, and pronounce words was when I was in the car with my mother and sister in a parking lot, arguing about the location of an umbrella. I froze in horror, trying to remember the difference between “distinctly” and “deliberately”. I was insisting that I clearly remembered doing something–and I picked “deliberately”. I was immediately ridiculed.

Another time, probably only months afterward, I mentioned the ash-palt. My mom laughed and it took her a while to tell me it was the fault of asses. “Asphalt” had never actually been spelled or pronounced that way for me. I was horribly, horribly wrong.

I pronounce “museum” mews-AM. And nausea “naw-shuh”. At least I say “comfoRtable” and “familiar” and “temperature” correctly.

Occasionally, I will stutter, and have difficulty choosing words. I tried to decide once whether I should say “good” or “great” and just stood there for a while, alternating between “guuuuhh . . .” and “grrruuhhh?” for about ten seconds straight before I tore myself from the abyss of oblivion hurtling toward me and finished the word. I can’t remember which I picked. Someone asked me if I was supposed to be a tiger, and I didn’t get it.

Evidently, I have survived these minor humiliations. And yet . . . every time I recall anything embarrassing, I repeat it until I am certain that the brain cells required to think about it are raw from all of their electrochemical communication with one another. I am doomed.


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