Thursday, March 19, 2009

Strings attached

My voice went A.W.O.L. more than three months ago.

Up to now, I've been able to communicate by scribbling notes, making gestures with my thumb, and tossing in a raised eyebrow now and then for emphasis. But now I'm ready to advance to the next level.

In December, a mute patient being treated at Boston University miraculously regained the ability to speak after surgeons planted electrodes in his brain. Just by thinking about vowels, he was able to say them with his vocal cords.

Pretty sure my HMO won't cover that procedure, so I'm opting for a do-it-yourself home remedy.

It's not new technology –it's been around since the end of the 19th century– but as far as I know it's never been applied in a way to benefit someone like me.

You've seen toy dolls with voice boxes that speak when you pull their string?

Well, what's stopping me from implanting some of those toy dolls' voices into me?

I already own a talking Pee-wee Herman whose voice box I could easily tuck beneath my shirt with the string hanging free, just like my rubber G-tube. Gimme a credit card and some time on eBay and I could snap up a talking Bugs Bunny, Woody, Buzz Lightyear and the Alien from "Toy Story," Elvis Presley, the Rev. Pat Robertson, Mrs. Beasley from TV's "Family Affair," Urkel from "Family Matters," Bill Clinton and Ann Coulter.

I could stuff their voice boxes all under my shirt and whenever I wanted to say something aloud, I would reach for the one of the strings.

I wouldn't always make sense, but at least I would be back in the conversational flow. And the hidden voice boxes would fill out my frame.

Let's imagine I rolled through a stop sign and got pulled over by a cop. Here's how the conversation with the cop might go, if I had access to all of the voices I listed above. (Each doll quote is from the actual toy.)

Officer: "May I see your drivers license and registration, sir?"

Me (in Woody voice): "Howdy, partner!!"

Officer: "Um, good afternoon. Just hand over your drivers li–"

Me (Woody): "You're my favorite deputy!"

Officer: "Huh? Have we met before, sir?"

Me (in Mrs. Beasley voice): "I do think that you're the nicest little friend I ever had."

Officer: "Sir, I strongly advise you to simply hand over your drivers license and registration."

Me (in Urkel voice): "No sweat, my pet!"

Officer: "Sir, are you aware that you went through a stop sign and failed to yield for a pedestrian?"

Me (in Bill Clinton voice): "I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky."

Officer: "Sir? Who said anything about sexual relations? And the name is Officer Lopez."

Me (in Mrs. Beasley voice): "Gracious me, you're getting to be such a big girl!"

Officer: "Sir. Please step out of the vehicle."

Me (as Alien): "Oooooh. The Claw is my master."

Officer: "Sir, what is your name?"

Me (in Smurf voice): "Hi! My name is Smurfette!"

Officer: "Mr. Smurfette, are you intoxicated?"

Me (in Bill Clinton voice): "I said I have never broken the drug laws of my country. And that is the absolute truth."

Officer: "May I remind you that you are speaking with an officer of the law . . ."

Me (in Pee-wee Herman voice): "I know you are but what am I? Heh heh!"

Officer: ". . . and I have the authority to place you in custody."

Me (in Pat Robertson voice): "I don't have to be nice to the spirit of the Antichrist." (in Elvis Presley voice): "I have always admired sideburns." (in Smurf voice): Smurf me a kiss!"

Officer: "Your behavior compels me to take extraordinary measures."

Me (in Buzz Lightyear voice): "This is an intergalactic emergency!"

Officer: "Please face the wall and place both hands behind your back."

Me (in Mrs. Beasley voice): "Speak a little louder, so Mrs. Beasley can hear you."


Me (in Bugs Bunny voice): "Now, now, take it easy."

Officer: "You have the right to remain silent . . ."

Me (in Urkel voice): "Got any cheese?"

I'd be speechless at that point. Pulling strings is extremely difficult while wearing handcuffs.

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