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‘Tard offsets


Lest anyone think I throw around the “R” word with unduly casual alacrity, I beg exception under the universal “you’re allowed to make fun of your own” rule. See, I rode the short bus for three years.

Ha ha! You guys are minions of a Special Needs Weasel!

Here’s how it went down. After several years of precocious juvenile delinquency, I earned myself a trip to boarding school. It wasn’t military school; more of a finishing school for wayward dumbasses. I put up with about six weeks of that before I went AWOL. Idiots. I was an habitual rule breaker. What made them think the cure for that was more and tougher rules?

After The Man caught up with me and sent me home, no-one was quite sure what to do with me. The term was well under way at respectable schools, and I wasn’t exactly respectable school material at that point in my career. It was the early seventies, and society was just beginning to recast eternal human conditions such as “obnoxious” and “stupid” as mental disorders, thereby tapping into rich sources of federal funding. “Special schools” of dubious legitimacy were springing up all over. I got sent to an extra-specially dubious one for evaluation.

After three days of tests, I was declared sooper genius level in English, a year behind my grade level in math and an apparent congenital sufferer of “minimal cerebral dysfunction.” I always thought that was a wastebasket diagnosis for “something bad wrong, but we don’t know what.” But I recently mentioned it in conversation to a friend who’s a psych nurse, and she was like, “Oh, no…that’s what they originally called ADD.”

And I’m like, “Get! Out! ADD?! Moi?! I’m the least ADD person I know. I can amuse myself for hours staring at a particularly interesting maple leaf.”

And she’s like, “oh, ADD isn’t just hyperactive. It also covers daydreamers and chronic procrastinators.”

And I’m like, “Oh.”

So there you have it. Fair cop. I went to ‘Tard Academy for three years. It was actually pretty sweet. I did a lot of sitting in the corner with a text book. For some classes, they clustered a varying number of us of roughly similar intellectual level. It amounted to tutoring, pretty much. For meals and recess, we were all mixed together. That was the most painful part; getting my ass handed to me at kickball by people who had difficulty speaking in complete sentences and adding small sums.

I don’t think there were ever more than twenty of us, and no two with exactly the same label. The intellectual range was from above average to quite low, but nobody was snobby about it and we looked after each other pretty well. It was, all in all, not a bad memory.

And, as a result of the experience, I own the word “retarded” and its charming contemporary contractions “retard” and “tard”. I bought and paid for them.

The last three years I spent in a regular High School; decent GPA, aced my SAT’s. No harm, no foul. And the best part is telling tales around my family. All my stories start with, “when I was in Retarded School…”

My parents flinch and cry out, “Oh, you were not!”

Oh, but I was.

May 10, 2007 — 5:45 pm
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