by Lorraine Bartlett / Lorna Barrett / L.L. Bartlett
A few weeks ago, we each posted one truth and one lie. My truth was that as a child I lisped. Since then, I've done nothing but lisp.
From first to fourth grade, I spent two afternoons a week sitting in front of a mirror while some woman coached me into concentrating on the letter S and making up stories about Sammy the Snake, or repeating silly sentences. (Although I don't remember actually having to say "She sells seashells at the seashore," at least not during speech therapy classes.)
Practicing my S sounds was never high on my list, probably because I don't remember ever actually lisping, but my parents confirmed that, yes, I did in fact lisp. I hated going to speech therapy. There were usually at least two other kids that I didn't know, and they came and went, whereas I was stuck there for YEARS. And while I always loathed school, usually I'd miss out on one of my favorite classes (Social Studies -- how's that for a subject that a lisper liked best).
I never had any friends in school, and now I look back and wonder if lisping played a part in that. Kids can be cruel, and maybe I just found it easier not to interact with them. I spent a lot of my time reading, although usually not what I was supposed to be reading. I remember in third grade, I'd read the entire Social Studies book before Thanksgiving, so the rest of the year was kind of a bore--dragging through stuff I'd already read. But, since I was at speech therapy during that class, I guess it didn't matter in the long run.
The therapist kept telling me I didn't put my tongue in the right place, but since my mouth was shut when I said an S, how was I supposed to know where to put it? They used to feed us little candies. "Now put this on the tip of your tongue, put your tongue on the roof of your mouth, and say, 'Sammy snake' three times." (Is it any wonder I HATE snakes?) Eventually, I stopped going, so I guess I must have stopped lisping.
Most of the time.
When I find myself in times of trouble, it ain't Mother Mary who comes to me, it's Mr. Lisp. The worst was when I had a boss who lisped. Ohhh...those were tough times. He was a really nice man, very smart and funny, but I can't be around anyone who lisps without falling into it again. That was an awkward couple of years.
I've lived relatively lisp free since then . . . until I wrote about it a few weeks ago. I have been in lisp hell ever since. Just thinking about it can make it happen. And I can feel it coming on. It's like my tongue gets too big for my mouth and I dread speaking. Last May I had lunch with my editor and it was like there was a giant lisp balloon hanging over my head, just waiting for me to screw up.
I visited someone in the hospital last week, a place with gives me the heebie jeebies, and all the while I was there, the big, gassy green LISP BALLOON hung over me.
I had to give a talk on Wednesday, I had a speech all prepared, but I knew I wouldn't be able to give it because that by-now GIGANTIC GREEN LISP BALLOON was dogging my steps. Luckily, I have fellow author pals to commiserate with. A couple of them suggested I just write down three points, and wing it. They were right. The speech went fine, with nary a lisp to be heard.
Just thinking about writing this post has me back in lisp horror. So after today, I will not think about it.
Probably until the Agatha awards are announced. After I lose, I think I'll be feeling a lot better. At least my tongue will be able to relax.
Anything like this ever haunt you?
By the way, check out our new Cozy Chicks pages. Look up at the top left list of links. Heather, the magnificent, has put up pages giving all the Chicks' backlists (try saying that three times without lisping). We're still giving away bookmarks -- and will soon have a package available for librarians.