Crying in the waiting room. I wonder what the other waiters were thinking.
I had a CT scan late yesterday afternoon. I’d spent all day indoors working on my Peacock dress so on my way out I picked up my mail and it had my first magazine from the Stuttering Foundation.
While I was waiting for the scan, I decided to read the magazine. That’s what made me cry; I was overwhelmed by that “I’m not alone” feeling.
In particular, it was an article about Budd Schulberg, the author of the screenplay for On The Waterfront, who stuttered. “He [Budd] mentioned a conversation with one doctor in which he stated that his own father, the famous B. P. Shulberg, also stuttered — but as an adult, only under times of stress.” That’s me.
Also: The Foundation has made a film called A New Look at Stuttering. They’ve posted a promotional video about it on Youtube and all the speakers in the video appear to be stutterers yet in the video they are not stuttering! That’s me too!
And another thing: I’ve said the word “hotel” with the accent on the first syllable for years. My friend Bruce conjectured that is was due to exposure to the Indian pronunciation of the word whilst I was in India. But I don’t think that is the reason.
If I try to say the word with the accent on the second syllable, I cannot say it. Nothing comes out. But if I say the word with the accent on the first syllable, it is easy to say. This is a common trick stutterers use and I was doing it unconsciously.
Learning this and all the other insights I derived from the magazine were — there’s no other word for it — exciting! And that is why I cried.
Why do I not stutter after a seizure? Here’s what I learned from Budd Shulberg: “Master Tarbell and I were members of the track team and we’d relish sprinting because afterwards we’d hyperventilate and have totally fluent speech.”
Why am I confident of my upcoming Flame story-telling that I’m delivering in rhyme and semi-singing? Budd: “A group of us would walk around in a large circle, performing like seals, first singing the lines that the therapist gave us, then repeating them in a singsong voice.” Me again.
In the back of the magazine are letters to the Foundation from child members. I was touched by the self-portraits stuttering and the revelations of the letter. But it was Maddie’s letter that had me bury my face in the magazine while I was waiting for that CT technician to call me into her laboratory.
“Hi. My name is Maddie. I’m nine years old. I have something that helps me not stutter. It is called my robot voice.”
I have named my voices too: I have Tonto, Rand and Robovoice. Then there’s “my” voice, the stutterer. Reading that not only does Maddie name her voices, but that we share a Robot voice just got to me. Imagine: A sixty-eight year old man crying in a waiting room over a letter by a nine-year-old over kinship.
The kids in the letters kept referencing “pull out” and “cancellation” in their letters. These are clearly coping techniques for stutterers that I knew nothing about.
Cancellation: After a stuttering event has occurred, the pws waits a few seconds and then produces the word again in an easier manner that is slower and controlled. Another option is to reproduce the stuttered word fluently.
Pullout: PWS must catch themselves in a moment of stuttering and then produce a pull-out, easing themselves out of the stuttering event. The speaker must not rush through the rest of the word, but produce it slowly and in a controlled manner as when canceling a stuttered moment.
What got me here was the term, “stuttering event.” I had no idea other stutterers were episodic like me, or that words starting with H or W are hard for all “pws” (people who stutter).
I am so not alone. Neither am I unique. I am part of 1% of the population. And I am so incredibly happy to have discovered the Foundation.