Have you ever noticed that cats will immediately gravitate to the one person in a room who either loathes or is allergic to them? I have the same problem with people who mumble. Not only do I possess a sincere distaste for mumbling, it literally causes me to break out in hives. On the inside, where no one can see them. I have no idea what karmic debt I incurred in my past life which has caused me to become a Mumbler magnet, but I whatever it was, I very sincerely regret it.
I am constantly surrounded by Mumblers. Despite having learned to lip read, I frequently find myself adrift on a sea of auditory ambiguity. I hate repeating myself, so I assume others do as well. This is why I find it offensive to have to repeatedly ask a Mumbler to speak clearly enough to be understood. If it’s worth the breath to say it, it is worth speaking loudly and clearly enough to be heard.
I have recently discovered that Mumbling is actually a legitimate subculture, just like the tiny house movement, roller derby, or extreme couponing. Imagine my surprise at learning that the leader of the Mumbling Movement is none other than my husband.
As Chief Incoherent, he has penned a number of educational pamphlets for those wishing to further obscure communication:
Getting Started: Chewing Your Words Without Moving Your Mouth
Unintelligible Speech: Mangling Consonants Without Using Your Lips
I’m Not Mumbling, You’re Not Listening: Making Others Think It’s Their Fault You Can’t Be Heard
Subsonic Communication: What the Elephants Can Teach Us
Top Ten Body Postures For Insuring Inaudibility
Being the diligent and responsible leader that he is, my husband takes his duties very seriously. He has already tutored our youngest child well enough for her to achieve the rank of Major Mutterer. Her keen intelligence and inability to enunciate have paid handsome dividends in the world of Mumbling.
Just yesterday, my back to her in the kitchen, she once again demonstrated flawlessly her Gift of Gibberish. As I asked her to repeat herself the first time, I turned to face her. I was hoping to use my lip reading skills in order to decipher what she was trying to say. She reiterated her plea, face firmly squashed against the back of the chair in which she was sitting sideways.
“Mommy,” (I managed to suss that much out), “car I humph a swerve iss kem eredda?”
“What?!” I responded sharply, my hives beginning to itch.
“Mommy,” she began again.
I sighed. “Yes?”
“Cam I hah slerp if danuh?” her lips, resolutely planted against the painted wood, were as still as a mannequin’s.
“Can you have a sleepover with Daniella this weekend?” I hazarded a guess.
“Yes!” came the reply, ringing clearly across the room, her face now moving freely several inches away from the furniture. Apparently, Mumblers can only confirm or deny communications once you already know what it was they were trying to say.
By far, Major Mutterer does her best work in the car. I love my Jewbaru, but it does have a modest amount of road noise one must overcome in order to have a conversation. Invariably, the Major will begin communicating from the back seat by fully turning her face to the window, looking down at the floor, and using a speaking volume at least 10 decibels lower than the background noise of the passenger compartment. When this occurs, I can only discern that her voice is being broadcast, not that actual words are being uttered. These, of course, are the times when she conveys only critical information: She needs 3 dozen cookies baked by tomorrow, her best friend has measles, the dog just threw up on the upholstery. The more important the information, the greater the garbling. This is the Mumbler way.
Being one who keeps abreast of the latest trends, I have decided to adopt a No Tolerance policy for mumbling. If you cannot be bothered to speak clearly, I cannot be bothered to listen. Life is too short to spend it decoding someone else’s inelegant elocution. I hereby declare (loudly, clearly) that the burden of comprehension lies with the speaker, not the hearer. For the love of all that is holy, I beseech you: Speak clearly now or shut your cake hole!