We all came to know Jan Brewer, the current Governor of the State of Arizona when on the fateful day of April 23, 2010, against (and perhaps delighted in?) the rising controversy and media scrutiny, she signed the “Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act” (aka Arizona SK 1070), setting the record for Arizona as the state with the most encompassing and strictest anti-illegal immigration laws, effectively bringing the country back 100 years.
Little did we know that Governor Brewer, under the facade of mean-spiritedness, tough-shit, insensitivity and fuck-political-correctness a la Sue Sylvester in Glee, actually struggles with her own disability. She is a sufferer of glossophobia.
Glossophobia is NOT the fear of gloss, as some of you may have thought. It actually means Fear of Public Speaking. Or in layman’s term, speech anxiety.
I used to despise her too. But no more. Have you seen the video of her at the televised gubernatorial election debate when she was caught all of a sudden by her glossophobia? ? She stared at her prepared speech for more than ten seconds, lost for words. I assume that the extremely awkward gap of silence was not caused by her not having prepared for this debate especially since this happened during her opening statement when she was introducing herself and summarizing the wonderful things she has done for her state. In fact, I assume that she must have practiced and practiced and practiced. But when you suffer from speech anxiety, you have no idea when it is going to catch up with you. Just like that. Snap. She blanked out.
When Rachel Maddow played the same clip on her show, she besought her audience to go against our humane tendency to avert our eyes when a proverbial train wreck is happening, to put in suspension our discomfort in witnessing our fellow human being’s moments of embarrassment. It is painful to watch, as Maddow said, but watch it you must otherwise how would you understand what a horrible condition glossophobia can be? The pain. The humiliation. The suffering.
It was very painful for me to sit through those 40 seconds. I wanted to turn my head. That awful gap of silence that must have felt like a lifetime.
Tick tock tick tock. Oh fuck. My mind is blank. Say something. Make something up. Fill it with whatever. Think on your feet. Ad lib. Improvise!
As an actress, going blank on stage was my worst nightmare. As a mouse in the corporate maze, public speaking is my biggest fear.
People have asked me whether it is not ironic that the thought of speaking in public sends me straight to panicville when I have stood in front of a full theatre wearing nothing but a bustier and underwear. To me, there is a natural explanation: when I was on stage, I was someone else, saying someone else’s lines, living someone else’s life, all according to the script. It was actually safe.
Public speaking is a whole different beast. A much scarier one. Thinking on my feet? Making it up as I go along? Ad libbing? No not I. Improv? Not in this life.
This is why I have been content in my lot in life: Can’t speak in public? Well, let’s cross out all these things then as potential career choice… It was a long list to cross out. And I am pretty sure running for public office was one of them!
After I stopped shivering from witnessing that painful episode and recovered from my shock, three light bulbs immediately appeared over my head, like so:
Light Bulb #1: OMG. Jan Brewer is a victim! I cannot believe we have been so mean to her!
Hath not a glossophobic eyes? Hath not a glossophobic hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions; fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons? If you prick us, do we not bleed?
I cannot believe that I, a fellow victim of this condition, have been so callous as to think that there is something wrong with her. NO! Jan Brewer deserves our sympathy. I for one empathize with her.
Light Bulb #2: WTF? So you can run for public office and even be elected a state governor when you cannot finish a brief self-introduction without quivering and looking pitiful? AND you can also make grammatical errors when you are reading from a prepared speech? I feel CHEATED! I have been lied to! Where is that piece of paper where I crossed off potential career choices due to my “condition”?
Light Bulb #3: Thank you, Jan Brewer. You have inspired all the glossophobics to reach for the star! So what if we tend to blank out during our public appearances? We will no longer fear the sound of the crickets! Down with the crickets! We can still run for public offices and hope that we are brilliant enough to fabricate scare tactics such as “headless bodies popping up all over Arizona borders because of illegal aliens” and to manipulate people’s fear and frustration towards the economy into votes!
CODA: Unfortunately right after I finished the draft for this post, Jan Brewer’s behavior made me question her commitment to the Glossophobia Awareness Movement. In fact, I doubt that she suffered from this condition at all!
After what I thought was her “coming out as a glossophobic” party at the debate, she went on the Sean Hannity show, managed to completely sidestep her performance (or lack of) at the debate and told everybody that Obama and “the federal government is after Arizona and they are going after everybody.” Ok…
Then I noticed it. The nasal voice. She sounded as if she had the worst nasal congestion the world had ever seen. I became breathless just listening to her. I kept on taking bigger and bigger breath because I was afraid I was going to stop breathing the way she was going to stop breathing. (Yes, I am an empathetic listener…)
Perhaps because of her severe nasal congestion, she’s got a lot of loogy, snot, boogie way up there? Or maybe it is the other way around? Man. I feel bad for her.
Or maybe it is all her. You know: *Jazz hands* Just Jan. *Jazz hands*
I mean, after all, with a maiden name like DRINKWINE*… Well… You know…
* Nope. Not kidding. Yup. It really is Drinkwine. Can’t make this shit up.