Thursday, July 05, 2007

Did You Stutter?

I met someone the other day who stuttered. Listening to a stutterer causes me about twice the anxiety as speaking with someone with a lazy eye.

I am gripped by the fear that the speaker is going to give up mid-sentence, mid-word, unable, finally, to utter sound. Every moment almost touches catastrophe. I try to pretend I'm not transfixed by the stutter. The stutterer is complicit in the fiction. I wonder "I wonder if he gets embarrassed every time he stutters."

This means, of course, that I end up trying to be polite while never really understanding what the stutterer was saying.

When I was around 10, I met a stutterer. It must have been the pre-teen version of Sunday school, where, instead of playing "Ring Around the Rosie," and singing "Deep and Wide," we talked about the Bible.

The kid said something like: "I think that D-D-D-David showed that um..."
Me: (in a mock-retarded voice) "Duh-duh-duh-duh."

Then I laughed, and everyone was silent. No one acknowledged it at all. The pretty Sunday school teacher, whom I must have had a pre-sexual crush on, didn't laugh. I must have thought it was a good bet to mock the weakest kid there to try to achieve some status in the little group. That is how it was done by the kids I knew. Often to me, but rarely by me.

I was desperately abashed by the Sunday School teacher's silent rebuke of me--and from the fear that followed the realization that I had horribly misjudged the situation. To this day, I am grateful the whole room didn't turn on me at that point. I don't think I could have taken it.


vacuous said...

That's a heartfelt story. At least you learned from the experience. I find it interesting that, according to your chart, stuttering can have a physiological cause, and moreover, that they can determine when you have that cause. I was always under the impression that stuttering was strictly a psychological phenomenon. I think I'll check out Wikipedia after I post this to see what more info I can find.

Anonymous said...

You probably don't remember that you went to speech therapy when you were very young.

beckett said...

I do remember that. For my inability to pronounce the letter "R." I got out of that class, but it wasn't until college that I realized that an "R" sound is properly made by rolling the tongue as opposed to purely with the lips.

I don't remember for how long I had to go out to the speech therapy trailer, but I do remember being a bit disappointed when I passed out of it that I no longer got to leave the school to go out the therapy trailer. Kind of like how I wanted glasses and braces when I was a kid I guess.

Anonymous said...

It was a very minor problem that I didn't want to have develop into something serious.

Anonymous said...

P.S. If you talk to Tinfelix, ask him if he received a personal email I sent him. (Sorry to go off-topic.)

Anonymous said...

I've sent you an email The prosecutor and the paradox which contains a link to an essay about uses and misuses of probabilities in criminal cases.
You may be especially interested in the "false positive" discussion.--Scribe29

pistolgal said...

can't lay a finger on your e-mail right this second but I wanted to tell you that I found a little tape thing-mo that says "Chris demo" on it among our mutual desk detritus. since I've been laid off (as of the end of July) I am cleaning everything out. do you need it? should I save it for you? mail it? can you e-mail me at ELandYOU and lemme know when you have a min? hugs, LVL

beckett said...

pg, i would like the tape of which you speak. i will email you.

thanks. and I am sorry you were laid off. bummer.

Anonymous said...

I have to live with stuttering the entirety of my life, I used to get teased, humiliated by the boys in my class. Mocking my repetitive talking but I got over that. The best advice I got to a parent who has a stutter is tell his child not to show your mad. But in his mind be mad, want to show those kids you are better physically and mentally. Once I turned 13 and people were still teasing I started beating that up. If u show them u are better they stop saying ah ah ah ah what you saying? Or duh duh duh dummy. But also a lot of girls think stuttering is cute :)