I stutter. Perhaps you've noticed. And while it isn't severe, and in no way impedes my ability to speak articulately and often, it has without a doubt made its impact on my life.
I do not typically speak about it, because, well, like my tongue ring, I can go months, even years without thinking about my stuttering "problem." It is so much a part of who I am, so essential to my being, like the color of my eyes, that it rarely even enters my brain. That is, of course, until some stranger, or loud-mouth bitch friend (Hi, Brandy! Kisses) brings it to my attention. And then, suddenly, it is ah ah ah ah awkward. To say the least.
For as far back as I can remember, I have done this. My mind often works much faster than my mouth, and I find myself always racing to catch up. And inevitably, I trip over a few words now and then. It is always on the first sound, of the first word of a sentence, usually the word "I." And it is, without exception, always the "ah" sound that is repeated. It's hard to describe the sensation. I am fully aware of the words that I intend on saying next, but suddenly, and without any warning, there is a traffic jam, and it feels like someone has shoved a ping-pong ball into my mouth. And the harder I try to push the words out, the faster the ball spins. I often need to take a beat, a half of a second, to stop forcing, and then I am off to the races again.
My Spanish teacher in high school wasn't aware that I stuttered at all until one day, while on a field trip she heard me speaking to one of my friends. Because when translating my English thoughts into Spanish I had never stuttered. Nor did I stumble over my delivery of lines in the many stage productions I was in. Something about being inside of the character, having studied the words in advance, lent itself well to not stuttering.
I hadn't much paid any attention to this affectation until college, when my boss (who also had a bit of a language problem) asked how I felt about my speech impediment. And I have to say that I was just a tad bit horribly offended that he would categorize my little stutter in this way. I certainly didn't. Which isn't to say that it hadn't been brought to my attention before this. In fact, as you can imagine, I have been relentlessly teased about this over the years, although none more painfully than by those about whom I cared most.
Too often, has this affliction been thrown in my face in the middle of an argument, taking the form of a mocking impersonation. It is my one shiny big red button, and when scratching the bottom of the barrel of clever come backs people don't hesitate to push it. And let me just tell you that there are few things in life that trigger in me the flight or fight instinct as much as this mocking. Say what you will about it, rationalize all you want, but mocking someone's stutter is patently offensive, patronizing, and reeks of pompous intellectual superiority. Like interrupting someone to correct their grammar, it is simply rude. Period. My first instinct is to verbally annihilate this person. Like I feel the need to prove to them, and to me, just how capable I am of expressing myself clearly. But, more often than not, I take a breathe and try to let it go. Throwing low blows isn't productive, even in retaliation. It may feel good. But my pleasure should never be dependent on someone else's sadness or pain. Never.
I have often wondered if I would, in fact, wish away this "problem" if given the opportunity. I think not. Like wishing my eyes blue, I fear that this tiny change would alter my entire being. Like the flapping of tiny butterfly wings, it would reverberate throughout my entire life. That the uniquely Jacob quality that I have would somehow be inextricably linked to it, and would disappear into the mist. Too much of a risk I'd say.
Ah-ah-ah-ah-and that's all folks!