Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Yeah, but you should see my smile now

Let's face it. Being a kid can be a challenge.

When Dan recently wrote about how he suffered from a speech impediment as a child, it reminded me of my own not exactly similar story - if you know what I mean.

You see, reading came easy for me when I was young.

There's no real specific reason for it, such as having been read to extensively by my parents or anything like that, it was just something that made sense to me at an early age. I've always loved puzzles and to me reading was just another puzzle - put these letters together in this order and they'll make this word. Easy! That's just how my brain was wired.

This leg up on reading did have its advantages of course. One benefit was that my primary school years seemed relatively easy for me. Because my comprehension skills were at the top of my class, I could pretty much coast while the rest of the students were working through what I had finished earlier. Of course this also afforded me the opportunity I needed to become "talkative" and "disruptive" and many other unparentfriendly behaviors.

Sometime in the 3rd grade we were asked to come prepared to class the following week with a short memorized poem of between 4 and 8 lines. Most kids chose nursery rhyme types of pieces but I thought the quirky 18-line Lobster Quadrille from Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures In Wonderland made for a much more interesting piece to recite - even though I had no idea what the word "askance" meant. When I was finished my teacher just looked at me and said, "Uh - that was very nice Jeff."

I'm pretty sure she checked my backpack for roach clips during the next recess.

As a result of my "advanced" reading and stellar enunciation skills, I was soon notified that I would be receiving the 3rd grade reading award at the school's next awards ceremony. Needless to say I was pretty proud of myself, especially since I was asked to recite the same poem that landed me the honor in the first place.

What I wasn't prepared for however, was that just a few days before the night of the ceremony, I was scheduled to receive a mouth-full of orthodontics to correct the severe underbite I was born with that made me look like some kind of human-Shih Tzu crossbreed.

And so the night of the big event, I was called to the stage as the winner of the 3rd grade reading award to recite my poem. It went something like this...

"Will you walk a little fathter?" thaid a whiting to a thnail,
There'th a porpith clothe behind uth and he'th treading on my tail. etc...

After the laughter died down I thlinked off to my theat and thaat down with my parenths, who - because were parents - were beaming with pride. At least that's how I chose to interpret the hugs they gave me at the time. Now that I think about it though, I suppose they could have been hugs of pity. Uh, mom?

The ironic thing is, it was this first experience of being "on stage" and all the attention I received that planted the seed for me to pursue a career as a performer later on in life.

Being laughed at for speaking with a lisp? Bah! I was on stage, and it was the best feeling in the world!



Anonymous said...

vgtchI laughing so hard I've got tears running down my cheeks!!

Julie Pippert said...

Awwwww! Seriously, it was total pride! I feel sure! And...okay, a little horror on your behalf. ;)

Like you, reading came easy for me. Unlike you, I was often penalized for it instead of rewarded. Such as opting to recite The Ballad of the Harp Weaver by Edna St. Vincent Millay in 5th grade while everyone else did something akin to Twinkle Twinkle (GEEK!) and the numerous times I got Fs for clearly making my mother do my homework for me.(PUHLEEZE...woman could not spell, as if I'd ask her to do my homework!)

But...I feel ya. A while back I posted about teasing due to my Orthopedic Shoes in elementary school. Kids are not exactly full of the milk of human kindness LOL.

Sticks and Stones

Using My Words

yoo hoo said...

A friend of mine was telling me about how difficult it was to understand a co-worker because of his "peech impediment". That's exactly how it came out of her mouth, there was that pregnant pause and then we just busted out in a very long and continuous laughter.

cathouse teri said...

Thooper cool sthory! I love it when an embarrassing moment can actually have the opposite effect of making one more brave! :)

Heather said...

Great story!

My love for reading got me in trouble a lot for reading with a flashlight under the covers. My mom told me that I'd hurt my eyesight but I didn't need glasses until 8th grade...later than anyone in my family. Maybe it helped my eyes.

That's interesting that your embarrassing moment actually gave you the itch to perform.

Gale said...

That is so sweet! Anytime my kids were on stage, I would cry like a baby. For what I don't know. I was such a sap.

Anonymous said...

The most difficult part to fill is the clown, but their longevity of employment can last to the grave. Retaining beauty is not a problem. Perhaps you should have been a clown, instead of a musician.

Jeff and Charli Lee said...

Lois - vgtchl indeed! You've really taken this whole blogger acronym thing to new heights mom.

julie - You're right... some kids are not full of kindness but most of them are definitely full of something.

carla - Maybe she was referring to the great Georgia peach impediment of '69. I hear that was a real disaster.

teri - What can I say? I was bitten by the bug of stardom!

heather - I used to read with a flashlight under my covers too. And just like yours, my mom told me if I didn't stop it I would go blind.

gale - Good ol' fashioned momma pride, I'm guessing :-)

bill - No thanks. I don't want any job I have to keep working at until I die. If I interpreted that correctly.

Whit said...

If that had happened to my son I probably would have been standing up pointing at the people that were laughing and mouthing, "Shut the hell up."

I may or may not have been drunk.

Dan said...

Oh man! You poor bathtard! At least I never had to stand on stage in front of an audience and lisp. Whew!

Well, they say what doesn't kill you makes you stronger.

Or thomething.

Anonymous said...

lol, that was great to read, i wish to product writing abilities such as you, i'm still young, check out my blog please, and let me know what you think about how the way i write and maybe how i could improve it,


Fourier Analyst said...

You are a true original! Am passing this entry on to friends who need a bit of inspiration!!

Anonymous said...

2 things:

A) i would have read "Jabberwocky", because, really, can ya top "Twas brillig and the slithey toves"? i don't think so.

B) one of my most "important" moments on stage dissolved when, at the moment i sang an especially high note, the two hooks holding up my halter top popped off, and i was topless. in front of an audience of several hundred people. and a TV audience that numbered well into the 1000's.

but hey... at least i didn't sing with a lisp. ; )

(this is a very sweet story, and it doesn't surprise me one BIT to know you were well read/spoken as a child. what happened???)

B. M. Lee said...

neva - Wait a minute... topless?!!! You mean like completely? I imagine somewhere somebody has some pretty blackmale-worthy video footage!