Full disclosure time.
I can’t believe I am writing this, because it’s something I have never told anyone, and yet here I am ready to reveal a most embarrassing, humiliating thought to the millions of people who read this very blog.
Some of you may find it offensive. Others may think it is unbelievably inane. Still others may vomit uncontrollably. If this latter reaction includes you, you should probably high-tail it to the nearest pharmacia, pronto.
OK, enough hype. Here it is.
I don’t know about where you live, but in my neck of the ‘burbs, there is a unique phenomenon whenever I go to the movie theater, or as some of you may call it, “the picture show.” After first failing to pass myself off as a child, and then hunching over and pretending to be a senior citizen, I finally pay for my adult ticket and proceed to the inside of the theater. And that’s when it happens.
The guy taking my ticket and (inexplicably) tearing it in half, is 90 percent of the time retarded. I don’t mean that he’s not retarded the other 10 percent of the day; I mean that 9 times out of 10 the ticket taker is retarded.
(Disclaimer: I know the word "retarded" is not politically correct. Trust me, my heart goes out to these people. They have my empathy. My goal in this little story is to not pick on defenseless people less fortunate than I. Rather, my goal is to point out the shortcomings of my own thought process.)
Now first of all, let’s be honest. We usually go to the movies to escape. Right before I enter that darkened suppository of magical dreams, do I really want to be reminded that there are less fortunate people in this world?
I was looking for a little escapism, or perhaps some mental or emotional stimulation. But now I have to start worrying about all the retarded people in the world: Do they ever go to the movies? Would they even understand them? Is management paying them a salary or just giving them free popcorn for currency? Is “retarded” the right word? What does the world look like to them?
Hey, I just want to see some explosions and car chases and if I’m lucky maybe a breast or two, OK?
But this is not what I am leading up to, for I miraculously am able to shake off these sincere concerns for the less fortunate pretty easily and still enjoy the flick.
No, here’s the embarrassing part. When the retarded ticket-taker rips my ticket in half and hands it back to me with his gnarled hand and fingers, I am nervously extra-cautious that his fingers don’t touch mine, because…I AM AFRAID HIS RETARDATION IS CONTAGIOUS!
OH SHIT! IF HE TOUCHES ME, I MAY BECOME RETARDED, TOO!
Now, I think I have average intelligence, perhaps maybe a little above average, especially on Tuesdays. I didn’t attend a prestigious college, I didn’t take advanced classes in high school, and please don’t ask me any questions about history, geography, or math. But I think I have good common sense, am tolerant, and can figure things out on a regular basis. In addition, the more trivial and insignificant the information, the more likely I am to know it. No brag, just fact.
What I’m trying to say is: I am fully aware that mental retardation is not contagious. And yet, every time this poor soul hands me back my stub, I am careful that I DON’T MAKE PHYSICAL CONTACT WITH HIM.
I fully admit to being germ-phobic. Not OCD, but a little germ-phobic. That at least makes some sense, because you can catch a cold or other malady through physical contact.
But there is no study anywhere, not even in Peru or Sri Lanka, that proves you can become retarded by touching another retarded person.
And yet, I still recoil, and I want to know why. Is it simply a germa-phobic reaction? Or is it possible that I’m just being a retard?