Glenn Shaheen is the author of the poetry collection Predatory (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2011) and the flash fiction collection Unchecked Savagery (Ricochet Editions, 2013). His work has appeared in The New Republic, Ploughshares, Subtropics, and elsewhere. He lives in Michigan where he is poetry editor for Third Coast and serves on the board of the Radius of Arab-American Writers, Inc.
I was driving a few friends back from the airport and I got this brain thing. In the middle of the freeway, in the middle of telling a story about George Foreman showing up to a friend’s English class, I suddenly couldn’t speak right. I would think of the word “limousine,” but “lemonade” would come out of my mouth. I panicked, but we were on the freeway. My friend riding shotgun couldn’t drive, was scared of driving. He noticed something was up. He said maybe I should pull the car over, but instead I just got off the freeway and tried to take surface streets. A couple blocks later I let a girl from the back seat drive while I tried to finish my story about George Foreman. Everybody was scared for me. I said “Joke” instead of “George.” It only happened that one time, but now if I can’t think of a word, or if I stumble over syntax I lock up, scared it’s back. I’m not an eloquent man, but I want to be understood. The George Foreman story isn’t even very good. He shows up to class after the professor says something about a student not knowing him personally, not to call him George in her paper. I said “minted” instead of “mistake.” We leapt instead of laughed.