Saturday, March 13, 2010

Thay It ithn't tho...

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.

Sammy snake 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.

Speech_therapy 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. 

Letter s 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. 


Anonymous said...

I've always thought it funny that the word lisp has an "s" in it.

Mason Canyon said...

When I was in first and second grade, my problem words were quarter and Cordle. Guess what, my second grade teacher was Mrs. Cordle. :)

A package for librarians sounds like a wonderful thing. You ladies are the best.

signlady217 said...

You are not alone. Elizabeth Peters has a character in her Amelia Peabody series who lisped as a child: Amelia's son, Ramses, and when he's really tired or stressed it comes back.

I wonder if a stutter is harder do deal with than a lisp. I have a least one friend who deals with that on a daily basis.

Kate Collins said...

I think stress can cause all sorts of brain freeze events. If I am really, really nervous, and have to take a drink of coffee or water, anything liquid, in front of others, I can't get the glass or cup to my mouth without it trembling so hard, it sloshes over the sides. It's like a hand lisp.
I wonder if a few deep, slow breaths and a little internal chanting would help. Hmm.

Heather Webber said...

Heather the magnificent--can I trademark that? :)

I'm a soft talker--no one can ever hear me. So I *always* feel like I'm shouting when I give talks, etc.

And there are tons of words I have trouble saying--like specific and accompaniment. Last week I was laughing because I couldn't say "bottomless bag"--which ended with me making up the word "blag" as a shortcut.

Dru said...

I get tongue-twisted and sometimes what I'm saying is not what I'm thinking and thus gets scrambled.

Shel said...

I had a half lisp (is that possible?) as a kid, and I still don't put my tongue in the right place when I say S sounds. What I mean by "half lisp" is that it sounds like an S when I say it, as opposed to the TH sound that a full lisp makes, but my tongue isn't in the roof of my mouth, it's at the front of my mouth between my teeth. Not quite as much as it would be for the TH sound, which is why I still get the S, but it's noticeable. Fortunately for me, my husband thinks it's adorable.

Lindy said...

I was in speech therapy for a short time when I was in grade school. I was told I had a bilateral lisp. It has bugged me ever since that I sound dorky when I talk. No one has ever mentioned it, but I always wonder.

Vickie said...

Oh, where to start? Weight was always the kicker growing up. Kids can indeed be cruel. I was chubby and non-sports oriented and an Air Force brat, so always new in town. Always getting picked last for any team at recess or gym class.

Received the packet of bookmarks! You guys are just swell!

thankin' you.

Laurie said...

Well, I was in speech therapy for the letter "R." I had to trace my finger along a line saying "rrrrr" with my the sides of my tongue up against the back sides of my top teeth.

Sammy the Snake is also very familiar to me. However, I think I had to work harder on my R's. As an adult, I'm a very fast talker, and I'm constantly being told to slow down so that I can be understood. I also used to stutter as a child and like you as an adult it had gone away until recently when I started to recall my stuttering and now it's back.

Thank goodness I'm a writer and not a public speaker. Orally, I'm a mess. I know what you've been through and what you're going through.

Bookwyrm369 said...

I get tongue-tied a lot because I'm trying to talk as fast as my brain is going - makes for some funny conversations :-)