Will Bueché

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Crazy but soothing

Posted in Personal by Will on Saturday, July 30th, 2005 ~ 8pm

A mentally defective person was speaking aloud as he shopped in the Goodwill store today. He was tall so his voice carried above the heads of the many shoppers. He was repeating the same passage, but his mantra was quite delightful.

“That was the Lillies of the Lake performed at Tanglewood with the guest strings of Mao Lu, who is now touring in Europe with Leylu Bass, and we wish her well on what is surely a highlight of the program…” over and over. Impressively, he was emulating the tone and delivery of an announcer of a classical radio station. (He’d memorized the details – I myself did not and have substituted some other names.)

This man may have been repeating this bit to prevent a more stereotypical Tourette’s outbursts. Or it may have been to offset any number of conditions, because the effect was calming, even to me once I knew he wasn’t dangerous. The vocal inflections of those classical music announcers is always at ease, so removed from any worldly concerns.

Each time he said it he seemed to be honing his enunciation to perfection. If he hadn’t been defective, I’d have assumed he was a voice actor practicing for an audition. I wonder if he memorized this one today, when listening to the radio some hours ago, or if this is a passage he’d kept in use for some time?

Myself I kept quiet and spent 33 cents on three used CDs – one of which, a disc by Paul Westerberg, was appropriately titled “Come Feel Me Tremble.”

I trotted back to my car because I saw, from a block away, that a meter maidtroid was stalking the lot. I knew I’d spent a lot of time looking through those CDs. Sure enough I slid into my seat and pulled away from the expired meter while the mm was still three cars away from mine. I think he knew that he’d been too slow to reach my car, and I have an unknown person to thank for that – someone was restraining his progress by talking to him.

FYI: Reply received suggested “Your person was very likely autistic and performing a ritualized activity called self-stim which is employed as a means of self-soothing.” I think they abbreviated it as “self-stim” because “self-stimulation” made everyone blush and look at the floor.

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