Our little high school only had one male cheerleader, an affable burly lad named Charlie who was universally well liked and looked great in his Wranglers and cheerleader sweater. I developed a crush on him that lasted for exactly 5 minutes immediately prior to Homecoming.
I accompanied my mother to HR’s Flowers to pick up the enormous mum my brother had purchased for his girlfriend and there was Charlie, surrounded by a small herd of female friends. Being 15, platinum blonde, confident and somewhat forward, I decided to introduce myself and walked right up to them.
“EeeeeeHOOOOAAAMMMMMmmmmmm.” I said.
There was a pause while we all took it in. I remember thinking, “At least nobody’s frowning”. People blinked.
At this point, I really didn’t know what to do. It’s hard to follow up an introduction like that. Hard to top it, really. What was I going to say? “Arrppffff?”
I glanced wildly around for my mother, hoping she could step in and actually introduce me to Charlie, and also reassure him that my vocal slip was a one-off, that I had been chattering away successfully since I was a little over a year old and had never had trouble forming a word before then.
But that was not to be.
My mother was trying to back slowly away from all of us, her legs crossed, bent at the waist, bobbing, doing the pee-pee dance. Her face was very red and all of her teeth were showing. She was laughing too hard to vocalize anything more than a horse, outward expulsion of air and was clearly on the verge of simultaneously passing out and wetting her pants right there in front of all of us.
She finally took an enormous gasp of air and said, “Oh, Waco…” and then contorted in laughter again.
She bobbed so much.
So I just walked off with her, trying to hurry her out of the store. Over my shoulder I heard someone say, “I think that was Rachel Sullivan, John’s sister.”
“I didn’t know she was slow.”
“I think they call her Waco.”
“Bye Rach… er… Waco!” somebody said, in a cheerful tone.
This was only the beginning of what was to become an extremely rare but always surprising aphasia problem for me. An aphasia problem that always ends in uncontrollable laughter and the occasional bobbing exit on my part, and astonished perplexing on the part of my audience. In high school it tended to happen on dates, which were made even more interesting by the fact that my knees knocked together in a constant slapping motion whenever I got excited in a sitting position.
I’m pretty sure I know who I inherited this from.