Life with Idiomitis: The David Welsh Story

As the evening rolled on, the kitchen still blanketed by the nourishing aroma of turkey, stuffing, pies, and unaddressed political tensions, the scene would have been a familiarly comforting one for any American:

This was Thanksgiving dinner. And, with the faint hum of television commentary and strained family ties being emitted from the living room, festivities at the Welsh household were as red, white, and blue as any patriot’s front lawn on the 4th of July.

In the small town of Pescatuckee, Alabama, a place still brimming with Main-street charm and mom-and-pop camaraderie (not to mention the occasional hate crime), this was life for most of the families that decided to make a home among the town’s grassy fields and breezy summer nights. It was only when I stepped back into the kitchen to find the formerly welcoming dining room table now thoroughly disarrayed and splattered with the contents of what was probably a freshly packed plate of food that I remembered my reason for coming here.

Would you mind telling me a little about yourself?

Well, um, there’s really not that much to me. My name is David Welsh, I’m 21 years old, currently going to college to study Agricultural Business and, just, trying my best to enjoy life, really.

So, David, what happened back there?

Oh, that thing. Haha, well, nothing too interesting, really. My mom, she, um, brought up the fact that I was seeing this girl from town and my uncle started, you know, asking questions about it. Now, I’m not really the kind of guy to go kissing and telling so I wasn’t really answering his questions all too well. And, you know, he was a little drunk and tends to forget about my condition when he’s like that so he just, uh, told me to spill the beans.

And so you did?

Well, I mean, there wasn’t any beans around so I just sort of slammed my entire plate of food face-down on the table. That’s pretty much what you walked in on.

What exactly is your condition?

I mean, I don’t expect anybody that hasn’t had a first-hand experience with somebody that’s afflicted to know about it but, basically it’s called Idiomitis. It’s pretty much this thing where, uh, your mind processes idioms and popular sayings literally.

Were you born with it?

Usually the condition is hereditary and a child born to a parent that is afflicted has about a 95% chance of being born with it. So, um, because my father suffered from it, doctors fully expected me to inherit it. But, after having some MRI scans done at about 5 years old, they were delighted to inform me and my family that I’d somehow defied all the odds.

I see. So, was this something that developed later on in life as your awareness of language grew?

No, actually, I would have been perfectly fine if it hadn’t been for my father using my head to knock some concrete off of the sidewalk in front of our house. Doctors say the physical trauma from this was, uh, ultimately what awoke my dormant condition.

Did domestic violence play a role in your upbringing?

Oh, no, not at all. My father was generally a very calm and loving man. What happened that day was that the mailman noticed how similar our faces were and said I was “a chip off the old block.” That was what triggered my father’s illness and prompted him to, well, brutally bash my skull into the sidewalk.

Where is your father today?

He, um… Sorry. I always get a little emotional when I’m talking about my old man. He drowned three years ago at the local lake.

Did you and your family see this coming?

Well, sort of but not really. I mean, like I said, he was a generally happy person. So when we got the news, it was kind of a shock to all of us. The town coroner had initially deemed it a suicide. But, after some investigation, we found out that earlier that day he’d gotten into a back and forth with a cashier at Allston Market that wasn’t particularly fond of him. And, so, one thing lead to another and I guess this guy ended up telling my dad to “take a long walk off a short pier.” So he hit the water and… just… kept walking.

Did you or family think about pressing charges?

You know, at first we did, when the wound was still fresh. But, after several attorneys told us that filing a lawsuit on somebody for, basically, speaking wasn’t really something legally reasonable to pursue- what with the First amendment and all- we kind of realized that the man in question didn’t mean any harm and eventually just gave it up.

In what way would you say Idiomitis has primarily influenced your life?

Well, for better or worse, I think it’s definitely been one of the things most responsible for turning me into the person I am today. I got kicked out of my elementary school when I was younger for disfiguring a classmate’s face with a rock.

You don’t strike me as a violent type. Were you being harassed because of your condition?

No, I was just trying to kill two birds with one stone and… totally missed.

Are there any words of encouragement you’d like to extend to anybody out there who might find themselves in a similar situation?

Just remember that you’re not alone and, as difficult as things may get along the way you should always do your best to appreciate the little things and bury the hatchet. Like, literally. If you have killed someone as a result of Idiomitis, you should probably get rid of the murder weapon. But, you know, also that other thing about moving on with your life.


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