Retarded.

So when I was in high school, I went through this big "retarded" phase. It was my word for everything. That's retarded. You're retarded. I'm retarded. You get it. At a certain point, I decided that this could be offensive to some people, and I really needed to stop saying it. Specifically, there was a girl in my class who had a brother with Down's Syndrome, and I heard that she was offended by the use of the word retarded like that.

So while I was really actively trying to weed the expression out of my vocabulary, this classmate offered me a ride downtown after school since both of us were headed that way. I accepted, and my inner dialog went like this: Don't say retarded. Don't say retarded.

Then I realized that she wasn't driving; her dad was driving, and her brother was in the car. Then my inner dialog went like this: Don'tsayretarded.Don'tsayretarded.Don'tsayretarded.

As we approached the car, a girl passed by us and my classmate said, "I think she's really pretty."

Not knowing if she was being serious or not, I asked, "Are you being retarded?"

Then there was this really long, awkward pause because 1) I had just said retarded and 2) it didn't even make sense in context of our conversation.

And it seemed like forever before I was able to say,

". . . I mean . . . sarcastic?"

She said no, and then pretty much the whole rest of the ride downtown was awkward.

(Uh... The End. For some reason I was thinking about that story again today. There's no real point to it except that sometimes what we're thinking comes out of our mouths just because we're trying hard not to say it.)

11 comments:

Murray Terreno di Amore said...

Well I can say that I never hear you use that word in a derogatory way, so it seems you have been successful at weeding out.

FoxyJ said...

I hate that! There's an older gentleman in the class I'm teaching right now who is from England. He's also a bit belligerent. We were talking about nationalities and I read a sentence about a lady who was "inglesa". In my mind I'm thinking "Remember, British and English are not the same thing". So of course, I totally said, "she's English, or British". And the guy in the back gets all pissy with me about how they're not the same thing. Open mouth, insert foot.

petit elefant said...

Ha! You totally just made my day. Retard.

Hannah said...

Sarah and I were just talking about this word today. She has a nursing friend who calls her own down syndrome kid her "retarded daughter." I was kind of offended and I don't even know them...

Shop Girl* said...

I sometimes catch myself saying this from time to time... but thankfully I find that it hasn't "caught" on with younger generations, or maybe they are more aware of its other connotations.

However, I think it's been replaced by "That's gay." or "you're gay" which is no less offensive to some ears. I wonder how these phrases catch on...

TOWR said...

ACK! Even while I was reading that I was thinking, "Don't say retarded. Don't say retarded!"

Figures... Awwwwkwwaaaard!

Tom Finnigan said...

So, my little story about calling something retarded. I think it was a dinner party or something, lots of people over.

I say something's retarded, and one of the girls at the party gasps and says "Ooo, you're going to have a retarded kid!"

Later on, a neighbor stops by (american-born, chinese parents). After she leaves, the girl says "Wow, she's kind of.." and pulls at the corners of her eyes.

Of course, I gasp and tell her that she's going to have a Chinese kid. :)

N.F. said...

Holy cow. I love it. Freaking hilarious!

girl with freckles said...

darren brown? something like that? famous mess-with-peoples-heads-for-money-on-tv guy did a piece on negative suggestion that went a lot like this. In the end, the girl killed the kitten. It was crazy.

daltongirl said...

I was trying not to say retarded, or to call people retards, but then I heard this pearl of wisdom from Michael Scott:

"You don't call retarded people retards. You call your friends retards when they're acting retarded."

So I think that makes it all okay, and I'm back to saying retarded whenever I want, knowing that I'm still being culturally sensitive.

kellyroxanne said...

i have totally done that, and it was so awkward. i'm not even going to say what word i used. suffice it to say it is a word i NEVER use. i don't think i have used it before or since, and because i was so on edge about the situation, i said it in the worst possible situation. why can't our brains work to our advantage in those moments. ugh!!!