I have a hard time speaking in front of people. Even if it’s just one person. I guess it could be a sort of lack of confidence that causes this because I occasionally don’t trust what comes out of my mouth. You see, I stammer. I stutter. And occasionally I just freeze up and say nothing while the words churn in my head, blocked by some invisible barrier in my brain that prevents them from flowing from thought to mouth. Occasionally words jump into the thought stream and pretend that they’re what I wanted to say, when in reality they aren’t related at all. There is occasionally uncomfortable silence when the words are blocked; there is a slight awkwardness when the same word comes out repeatedly and honestly, there’s downright confusion when my forehead should have a big “?SYNTAX ERROR” sign plastered across it.
All of this surprises people when they find out that I used to be in radio. I had a hard time with it, except when I was completely alone in the studio and building. Then it was just me talking to a microphone, and as long as I used a hip Ted Baxter voice and concentrated really hard on mimicking what a radio DJ was suppose to sound like, I was okay. The confusing part of my speech was kept relatively at bay. Then I’d put on a long song and walk across the street to grab a pop or something and ask a co-worker in my ‘normal’ voice, “Want something to drunk from Thruways?” Translated, that meant “Want something to drink from Kinney’s?” (the store across the street).
A startled glance.
I listen back to some of my aircheck tapes and I wasn’t really fooling anyone, I mixed up my words more than most. I would stop midsentence. Growing up I remember my Mom having a hard time trying to get a word out here and there; perhaps it’s hereditary.
I rarely address people by their name, though I know their name, because I’m afraid the wrong name will come out when I’m fully aware of the correct name. This makes for a social gaff and some get offended. Especially when they are a vice president of the company or something. So I smile and make with the pleasantries anonymously.
Do I dislike this part of this whole experience of mine? Not really, though I do wish that I could speak like the best of them in front of an audience. I wish I sounded suave, articulate and eloquent like Alec Baldwin or President Obama.
But that’s not who I am. A friend reminded me that my friend Jeff and I have something in common (Jeff stutters and stammers from time to time like I do). I’m content to be me: the one in the corner silently smiling, remembering every word, every name, every detail and not saying a thing about it.
I guess I have my own brand of eloquence.