Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Reason #612 I am definitely going to hell: the R Word

When I was a kid, there was one word that probably got more cycles through my relatively limited vocabulary than any other word in the English language. You know what word I'm talking about. The R Word. You're going to make me say it, aren't you? Fine. Deep breaths.


Don hate. Let me explain. When I was a kid, everything was "retarded." My little brother. The fact that I had to go to the dentist. Undoubtedly at points, my parents. The recess pretzel line at school. School itself. My dog. My parents' Ford Taurus. Winter. Our babysitter's boyfriend. At one point or another, you can bet your ass they were all retarded.

Just like that little diddy fuck today, the R Word could be easily slid into any sentence to express a range of emotions. It is all encompassing. It is noun, adverb and adjective. And today, it is a big No-No. But back then, I let that word fly without a second thought. Everyone in the recess yard did. Not that second thoughts are really my forte today, but back then? Woo, I was really retarded.

When I got to high school and actually started to develop things like compassion (finger quotes) and propriety (finger quotes) and an awareness for things outside of myself (animated finger quotes), I began to wean off the R Word in the big way. Mostly because I truly realized what it meant in the big pictures sense. I truly understood where this little playground vocab word came from. Then in college I had friends who majored in Special Ed and the word was eliminated completely. This word was a hate word and this girl don't play that way. See? I can empathize. I understand. I do not hit others. I do not use words that could hurt. Except for the word fuck. I use that one all the time.

ANYWAY. For years this word had been completely eliminated from my vocabulary without a second thought. And if ever anyone would use it, it would make me slightly uncomfortable. I'd imagine everyone else in the room must also be slightly uncomfortable because can you believe that man could be so insensitive as to use that word? And thinking about everyone else being uncomfortable would quickly escalate my own discomfort until I was squirming around in a giant gummy vat of awkwardness. Such is my life.

Well recently the R Word has been sneaking back into my vocabulary. I don't even know how it started. One day it just slipped out. I was quietly sitting at my desk, typing away at a webpage I was setting up for work when the page froze, crashed and I lost all my work. I leaned back in my chair, let out a long sigh and muttered, "huuhhhhhhhg this thing is retarded." I was shocked. I immediately gasped, threw me hands to my mouth and frantically looked around to make sure no one overheard me.

Okay whatever, at least I wasn't using it to describe a person. Calling a computer system retarded barely counts as anything. But then, not too long after the computer incident, it happened again. Only thing time I was talking about a man. I was having dinner with B and describing my day. It had been a particularly taxing day and I was venting. And as my story become more and more animated -- my arms were waving, the pitch in my voice was rising -- it slipped. "I mean, could this guy BE any more retarded?" As soon as I said it my story stopped abruptly. I watched for B's reaction. Would be point his finger and call me a hate monger? Would he tell me how disappointed he is in my using such an insensitive word? Would he give me the B sigh followed by the whispered "Briiiidgeeeeeeet reallyyy?" like he did when I insulted the neighbors for walking their children on leashes? I still contest that I was in the right there. WHO WALKS THEIR CHILDREN ON LEASHES? IN THE SUBURBS? WITH THEIR DOG? And I'm the ridiculous one?

But he didn't even respond. I felt almost as bad as I would have if I dropped the N bomb. I said almost. I hugged my goblet of wine to my chest and curled into my shell. But since then, it's been happening again and again, more and more frequently. Once again, my chair is retarded, this program is retarded, people who love Cougar Town are retarded, B is retarded, my student loans are retarded, I myself am retarded.

The R Word is back with a vengeance. It just rolls off the tongue so easily. It's so very pleasing to the mouth. (That's what she said?) Clearly, letting it slip once had opened the floodgates of verbal retardation. It's like one retarded is the gateway drug to a million more retardeds and all of a sudden I'm spinning out of control and nothing will stop me until I get the shit kicked out of me and pass out next to the Boston Medical Center dumpster. I'm working on pulling the reigns in on this before it slips in front of the wrong crowd. I can only imagine how disastrous that could be for my career or worse, my social life. Welp, see ya in hell.

Don't judge.

Also? It's my birthday today and my Back on My Feet team made me muffins and sang me songs and read me letters and now I want to marry my team so you should love them too and donate to Back on My Feet! It would be really retarded of you not to. I'll even run a marathon for you if you do it. THAT'S how good of a friend I am.


Avitable said...

"Wicked retarded" is a common phrase among my Boston family members, and I still use it, as well. I'm pretty sure I've even heard my cousin with Down's Syndrome use it. I still think that someone can be "retarded" - appear delayed in their mental development - so it's acceptable. I'm good at justifying things, though.

RuthWells said...

Happy birthday, Bridget! We Philadelphians raise a glass in your direction.

Bridget said...

you better cut that shit before mr michael t farrell comes for a visit...consider yourself warned...

Avitable said...

Michael T. Farrell? I'm lost.

Oh, and happy birthday!

Bridget said...

It's Michael T. Farrell I'm terrified of! He will KILL me!

Becky Mochaface said...

I think I read somewhere about how an organization is trying to stop all use of the R word. Whatever. Sometimes retarded is the best word for a situation. Like my beloved car who is now a gimp with a clutch that makes popping noises. Totally retarded.

Oh, and Happy birthday Bridget!

rory said...

I'm retarded and I find your use of the word retarded in a retarded kinda way.

Hippo Brigade said...

What about fuck-tard? Is that one is off the table too? Well, whatever. I know people on the national down syndrome committee. They would have your head on a platter for this one. Shhh, I won't tell them anything. Consider it your birthday present.
Happy day.

Squid said...

Not a fan of the word, due to the reasons described in this video (warning, shaky cam):


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