One of the few things I liked about the movie Jurassic Park was how Jeff Goldblum's character behaved. It was almost like his mouth ran separately from his mind. Whatever he was saying, his brain had already moved on to something else so his mouth was just finishing up thoughts he was no longer having.
I say this because I identified with that. If, in the middle of a sentence, I'm forced to backtrack, either because I said the wrong word or I stumbled and stuttered when I spoke or even (as sometimes happens) come up with a much better way to express my thoughts, my tongue will get tied up like it paid a $10,000 a scene dominatrix. Curiously, as self-conscious as I can be at times, I never worry about looking like an idiot when that happens. I stand there, make a goofy face or noise as I force my mind and my mouth to get back in sync, and resume speaking while being inwardly amused by what just happened.
(This happened once in a while when I was doing improv. Without fail, other partners would seize on it to build characters and scenes. So it did have a practical side at one time.)
Now, this happens to everybody once in a while. It's no big deal. It can be embarrassing, sure, especially when you are conscious of what nonsense is coming out of your mouth. But while you may look like a dope for a few moments, no one really cares.
At least, you wouldn't think anyone would care.
At the Grammy awards last Sunday, Los Angeles had a local reporter named Serene Branson on the scene. Serene was anything but serene when, after the show and on a live shot, they cut to her and she started babbling like Art Bell on a meth bender. It was only about twenty seconds and the news studio cut back to the host. Clips about it are all over YouTube.
Now, like I said, these things happen. Remember Miss South Carolina a few years ago, talking about "the Iraqs." She responded with good humor and has even moved on. Not Branson. As soon as the shot was over, Branson was examined by paramedics. Wait, what? Then news started circulating that maybe she was having a stroke on camera. Branson released a statement saying it was a migraine that triggered the babble. She's had migraines since she was a kid, it's never been that bad, etc etc etc.
Now, don't get me wrong. I understand there are nervous tics and psychological disorders and such. But for such a simple thing to be blown up into questions about physical health and for such a bogus "explanation" to follow (I've had migraines. They hurt like hell, but they don't make me speak gibberish), it trivializes those who have real problems. It makes those who may have severe migraines get written off as, "Oh, just like that reporter? You'll be all right."
Here's one of Peter G's immutable Rules Of Life: WE ALL LOOK LIKE MORONS ONCE IN A WHILE. Even the most dignified among us will do something stupid, whether on accident or we just got caught up in the spirit of the moment (Howard Dean) or whatever. At the lunch counter, one of the girls was dancing to the music when she saw me watching. She stopped and looked embarrassed. She relaxed when I told her, "I can prove you have no reason to be embarrassed." I called out, "How many here at weddings have done the Chicken Dance?" Literally everyone sheepishly raised their hands. Except me. I shot mine up, flying the freak flag, and saying, "We've all done it! We've all looked like morons!" A little perspective is what these situations need, not a doctor's note. You goofed, people saw it. Live it down, and move on. Of all the things to get hung up about, this isn't worth it.
Here's a little something to help anyone facing an embarrassing situation cope with it. This is a scene from a recent episode of NCIS. You'll want to skip to 0:50. Abby is doing the turkey trot in her lab for no other reason than it's fun. (Notice she's also wearing jingle bells around her waist and you can hear them on the soundtrack.) Not only does she not think twice of Gibbs seeing her do this, but once he's gone, she goes right back to doing her silly dance. The moral? Don't be embarrassed, just have fun.