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Compartment 14B

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Acting my age, to my everlasting regret.

2004-04-22 - 11:42 a.m.

Since I’ll be going out of town tomorrow morning and I’m not going to be able to sit down in front of a computer ‘til Monday, why not leave the story of one of the most embarrassing moments of my life plastered up for my 3-day weekend?

I’m sure we’ve all been through that gawky adolescent stage (and if you’ve never, ever felt gawky, we have nothing in common; get thee behind me Satanesque person!). Where we’re not so socially, ept shall we say?

Grade 7. Thirteen years old. Still sporting a substantial layer of baby fat and doubly-cursed with The Worst Haircut My Mother Could Have Visited Upon Me. It was truly, truly awful, with my face rendered into an elegant pear shape by the box of bangs across my eyebrows and the rest long, straight-cut across the bottom, and hanging as if tipped with leaden weights.

Following her divorce, my hitherto stay-at-home mother had gone back to college. Being fun, generous and nice, not to mention equipped with her own house and a great hostess that kept her fridge stocked with beer, she developed a loyal knot of friends that were over often. Among them was Bruce.

Ah Bruce. *Sigh*

He was a man such as I’d never interacted with up close before. He looked a bit like Bo Duke. Early twenties. Curly blond hair. Blue eyes. Square jaw. Muscular frame built from kayaking. And the most adorable trace of a lisp. My newly-pubescent heart went pit-a-pat. And he even talked to me like I was worth talking to! Then it happened.

I had always been curious about what made people lisp. Was it the way their mouth was shaped? Was it the configuration of their teeth? Was it something in the way they moved their tongues and lips to form words? To this day actually, I still don’t really know because I didn’t get an answer to this question that leapt out of my mouth.

“Bruce, why do you lisp?”

“Why do you want to know?”

Why did I want to know? Why did I want to know? I was totally unprepared for the question. My mind cast about furiously for an answer. The truth, because I think it’s cute, flashed through my mind and was gone in a mortified puff of smoke. I thought that anything, anything, would be better than admitting that! I was wrong. The second plausible reason rushed through my head and out my mouth, unchecked.

“Because it’s irritating.”

You think that would be enough, wouldn’t it? But I added a nail in the coffin, mimicking perfectly the word he had just said in the conversation that had prompted me to ask him the fatal question.


He noticeably cooled towards me after that and our relationship was never the same. And all because insulting the object of my crush seemed, for a very fleeting moment, like a more viable option than giving any hint that I was sweet on him. I still cringe, just thinking about it.

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