Posted by: laughs4dads | June 2, 2010

Speech Impediments

So apparently, if you’re a teen-aged girl, there are a number of ways to become an Internet sensation.

For instance, you could perform a lap dance for a much older gay man, as Miley Cyrus did recently, but, then, she was already somewhat famous from having appeared in a sexy photo with her father in a magazine…and doing a pole dance on national TV…and maybe a few other things.

Or you can get pregnant and talk about it on a video blog. This is what Jessica Shafer has done.

Jessica talks into a webcam every day, sharing all her aches and pains and doctor’s visits. She has had hundreds of thousands of hits and was featured on the AOL welcome screen, right after the headline “Man Fights to Keep 200-pound Pot-bellied Pig.” I don’t think the stories were related.

I watched one of Jessica’s posts, figuring that it would be a deeply insightful journal of a thoughtful young lady bravely turning what I assume was a mistake into a positive experience (I mean, besides actually having a baby, which could be a positive, I suppose, if you like those sorts of things).

Anyway, I watched her video for precisely as long as I could have lasted watching any teenaged girl (other than my own) talking about anything. Which is to say, not very long.

The problem is that, while Jessica might be, like, saying serious things about her trials and, like, tribulations and all her, like, emotional ups and downs, she talks like, you know, a teenaged girl.

You know?

But, to her credit, Jessica Shafer seems to be intent on avoiding many of the problems a teen-aged mother might face, such as poverty and the lack of a future of any kind. She already has cards and gifts coming in from all over the world, and she’ll probably turn her YouTube channel into a reality TV show (maybe with Kate Gosselin and Octo-Mom: “The Inappropriate Mothers Show”).

If my daughter Casey had wanted to do something like this when she was 18, I would have been very unhappy about it, partially because I think this fixation everyone has with sharing everything with the world is stupid, but mostly BECAUSE SHE’D HAVE BEEN PREGNANT!

One more thing: Jessica Shafer should read my last post about baby naming. She has pre-named her baby Lilia, thus breaking either my Rule Number 4 (Don’t Get Creative With Spelling) or Rule Number 9 (Don’t Make Stuff Up). And she has condemned her daughter to a lifetime of having to spell her name for people.

As we will see in a future episode of “Jessica the Teenaged Mom in the Real World Which Is Like, You Know, Awesome.”

Now, while Jessica does say “like” a lot, there is a much more serious affliction for which I’d like to raise awareness. It’s a speech impairment that affects, seemingly, 8 out of 10 young people and goes virtually unnoticed by its victims, yet makes them highly annoying to have a conversation with. Further, as they grow older and go out into the world, this impediment makes it impossible for them to speak with any authority and, regardless of their status in life or in business, they will always sound like 16-year old girls, even if they are CEOs of major corporations. Even if they are not female.

I am referring, of course, to question talking.

I think it started as Valley Girl talk? In the 80’s? When every sentence rises at the end? And then it spread, like the swine flu was supposed to. And there was no vaccine.

It eventually reached every corner of our country, and every niche of society. Experts on 24 hour news channels did it (“I think we’re doing all we can to fight terrorism?”). Athletes did it during post-game interviews (“I just stayed within myself? You know, I gave it 120%? It was a true team effort?”) Even politicians did it (“The rumors about me are entirely false?”).

And, of course, our kids did it. And now it’s time we do something about it.

The cure is simple and effective. Whenever you are around your child and his or her friends, call their attention to it when they question talk. You can do this by making a loud game show buzzer sound. Or blowing a shrill whistle. Or perhaps slapping them alongside their heads.

Once they catch on to this behavior modification technique, you will notice the change in their speech patterns. They will talk more slowly. They will be careful not to raise their pitch at the ends of sentences, even when they actually are asking a question. And sometimes they will find they are no longer able to talk at all.

This is not an entirely bad outcome.


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