Posted by: pendrops | October 2, 2008

stutter and all

I’ve been on a brief Pendrops hiatus while putting the finishing touches on my upcoming book, as is. The process definitely took more mental and emotional energy than I anticipated, but I am psyched about the release of my first book in Spring 2009. If you enjoy what you read at Pendrops, you are gonna love it!

That said, let me dive in.

So my fingertips happened to be just out of reach of our remote as a string of maddening commercials began to cycle through while I watched Ellen the other day. I tried to ignore them, but as a crisply trained male voice repeatedly sang, “BA-BA-BA-BA-BABY, you just ain’t seen nothin’-nothin’ yet,” I couldn’t help cringing.

It was too perfect. Too flawless. Too polished. The stutter was fake.

When the original was recorded by Bachman-Turner Overdrive in the 70s, Randy Bachman laid down the famous stutter track as a joke for his brother, Gary, who really did stutter. Now, of course, everyone knows the original, stutter and all: “B-b-b-b-baby, you just ain’t seen n-n-n-nothin’ yet.” And what do we do when we hear it: we try to sing along! (Please tell me I’m not the only one.)

But here was this stupid commercial taking the song and making a stiff rendition, attempting to recreate the stutter as properly as possible.

It got me thinking about the inclination we may have to clean things up, to perfect flaws, to eliminate defects. Flaws and defects that, in the end, actually define our individuality. Flaws like freckles, pooch bellies, and laugh lines. Defects like heart-brokenness, soul-sadness, and stutters. Our first instinct is to disinfect the mess, erase the mistakes, cover up the stutter in our own stories. Because being around someone who stutters, well that’s just awkward, isn’t it?

But there’s also something beautiful there, too, right? In our frailty, failings and foibles. It’s our quirks that make us remarkable, can I get a witness?

Of course, some refining is good, necessary, humbling, and freeing. And I don’t think Scotch or whoever made the commercial would argue with me, even if they did take the stutter out of “You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet” to sell sponges. I just can’t help seeing a trend toward perfection in our culture, a growing penchant for tireless betterment, a fear of being authentic as is.

But I think if we really look at ourselves and those around us, it’s the stutter that we love. It’s the stutter that makes us each unique. It’s the stutter that colors our stories and makes room for redemption.

By the way, Gary doesn’t stutter anymore.


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