Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Sticks and Stones...Hurt Like Hell, Damn It!

As a young child, I wasn't the most brawny of kids. In fact, I was downright scrawny and wimpy. I was born 2 1/2 months early, weighed only a few small pounds and never really caught up. Because of my pint size, I was often the target of bullies. When I was in middle school, around 6-8th grade in the United States, I had the stature and build of a kid of no more than 9 or 10...even though I was 12-13 years of age. In the locker room after gym, all the kids stood at least a head or so above me.

Because of my small size, I wasn't too adept at physical confrontation. Redeeming myself and my good name through the use of "fisticuffs" wasn't my forte...never was and never will be. In my entire childhood, I was probably only engaged in two fights ever; one was with my brother and the other was with a kid in the 6th grade who wiped the school yard with my face.

While I wasn't adept at physical confrontation, I did learn early on that I could defend myself pretty well with my words. Despite my stutter, when I would become angry, I could give someone a hefty tongue lashing, so much so that I had a reputation for being fairly skilled at verbal put-downs and insults. It was my sole effective weapon, though not effective if the target of my verbal rampage decided to take things a step further. Then I would be at a decided disadvantage once again.

My verbal skill, while also somewhat of an advantage at choice times in my dealings with schoolyard peers, was also my biggest source of trouble at home. My mother was a strict disciplinarian and demanded respect and absolutely forbad "talking back" or "giving sass" to adults. But, I was unable to control my mouth, even with my parents, should we disagree over some thing or some issue. I would argue an issue, even if I was in the wrong, to the point of distraction and was a constant source of annoyance to my mom who, on more than one occasion, stated categorically that if given the chance, I would argue with Jesus Christ himself. But, that's just silly. Jesus is a Democrat. Why would I argue with Him?

I guess I am posting this because I find it somewhat ironic that I was gifted with a sharp tongue, but also with a bad stutter as a kid. As I said in an earlier entry, I also love sharp-witted comedy and would have loved to have been a stand-up comic...but for my annoying stutter. (And assuming I'm funny. My son says that I'm funny, but also says that looks aren't everything.)

Language is very important to me. I guess that's why I developed such a love for the written word. I can't speak it as eloquently as I write it...and the advantage of writing it is that it gives you time to carefully hone what you intend to say before you unleash it on the unwitting reader. I participate in online debate, have been frequenting the same debate forum for over a decade now. I am pretty damn good at it, but I think that's because I can think before I write and I always sound more eloquent than if I had to speak aloud what I want to say.

Is any of this your experience as well? As a stutterer, what dreams did you pass on because of the limitations of your speech, if any?


Triumph said...

I have turned to writing myself, because I am surely more eloquent that way.

I would have loved to do things which requires more talking, without having to be too terrified to talk.

I like humour and comedy too, and if and when I have a joke which in my opinion is good and worthy sharing, I would not for fear that I wont be able to give justice to it, should I attempt to tell it.

I worked for most of my life in administration, but gave it up because I always felt inadequate and incomptent because of my stutter.

I am now pursuing a career in a more pratical field, decorating, interior and otherwise. I know this requires talking as well, but because of my love for it, I think this will override the speech factor.

Stuttering Stanley said...

I think you'll do wonderful at interior what you love. Thank you for the comment and good luck with all you decide to do.

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Stuart said...

A few years ago I went to see a stand up comedian named Daniel Kitson (in the UK).

Being a life long stutterer my stutter radar kicked in on almost the first sentence he spoke.

This guy stuttered!!!

I actually became very uncomfortable watching him and waiting for the crowd to turn but to my amazement he was superb and handled any bad blocks he had with wit and humour.

I later discovered that he is a hugely respected stand up comedian over here and used to do a whole skit about his stammer when he first started.

Sorry if you already know about this guy but thought you might find it interesting.

Cheetah/Jade/Squirrel/Robyn said...

I have a mild stutter and I have been a competitive debater for the past 5 years of my school life. I've won competitions and individual awards with my team. but doing so definitely wasn't easy and came along with a lot of complicated emotions too.

I would have been a much better debater had I been able to speak completely fluently but debating with a speech impediment has taught me many things, and I'm thankful that I stuck with it for this long :)

The Crow said...

Jesus was a democrat?
I don't think so.
Are you a democrat?
That might be a far greater impediment that stuttering.

Then again, in the immortal words of Mark Knoppfler:
Sitting on the fence is a dangerous course.
You could even catch a bullet from the peacekeeping force!