Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Speak English, dammit

posted Wed, 16 Aug 2006

I was inspired by this very funny post about an obnoxious parent baby talking to his non-baby child to write about my own experience with a sort of similar situation, only my situation didn’t involve a swimming pool or anyone looking at Kate Moss’s butt or me considering telling my child – for I have none – to make me a gin and tonic.

But my story does contain an obnoxious dad baby talking to a child who is not a baby, an offense for which you should be allowed to use one of your three daily vaporizing zaps. You know the zaps I’m talking about – the ones you use on rude obnoxious people who violate the laws of civilized behavior, like the drivers who ignore the “Left lane closed ahead” signs and drive all the way to where the left lane disappears and then expect to be let in – and people always do let them in! – or the people who get into the express line at the grocery store with 43 items or the woman ahead of me today at Target who was too busy on her cellphone to pay the cashier and made all of us wait until she’d finished her conversation before she completed her transaction. Those people. Those of us who are polite should be allowed to vaporize three jerks per day. At least. Including adults who baby talk to anyone who’s not a baby.

So there is this guy who at boot camp who’s been bringing his kid to class with him. His kid, Howie, is about eight or nine. Howie is not particularly coordinated, even for an eight-year-old. He can’t even do jumping jacks. He’s an awkward kid. But that’s not his fault. Heck, I was an awkward fat kid and look how great I turned out.

It’s not a big deal that his dad brings him to boot camp. I really don’t care. It’s not like he’s getting in anyone’s way. Tony doesn’t seem to mind.

The problem is his dad. Every time Tony gives an order – and he does give orders because he’s an ex-Marine drill instructor and it’s hard to break the habit, not that he’s trying or anything, the dad gives Howie a soothing little pep talk. “OK Howie! Now we’re going to do pushups! You like pushups don’t you?”

No! Nobody in the world likes pushups, you idiot. They are the worst exercise in the world.

Now, I don’t get the idea that Howie is stupid or that he doesn’t understand English. He knows what Tony has said. Even if he doesn’t, he can watch what everyone else is doing and follow along. But his dad encourages him – which still wouldn’t be so bad – and he does so in this horrible babytalk voice. It’s not a normal grownup voice. It’s this cloying, condescending, half-whispering, negotiating with terrorists voice that is worse than fingernails across a blackboard. It’s worse than the smell of perfume in a gym or in an office. Than perfume anywhere. Yes. It’s that bad.

Every time I hear The Voice, I cringe. When I see Howie in class, I stand as far away from him and his dad as possible. This is one the few times where my off and on left-ear deafness is an advantage (another time being when someone says something that I don’t want to pay attention to). I’m starting to hate Howie, even though he’s as much a victim as the rest of us.

I am so tempted to throw my weights at his dad, but I never would, of course.

I have very, very bad aim. And I’m not strong enough to heave them that far. Yet.

More pushups.

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