About the presenter: Russ Hicks has stuttered significantly all his life. He lives in Dallas, Texas, and joined the National Stuttering Project (now the National Stuttering Association) in 1985 and Toastmasters in 1988. He has had great success in Toastmasters, winning the Southwestern United States Regional Humorous Speech Contest in 1996, and recently attaining the rank of DTM, a Distinguished Toastmaster, the highest rank in Toastmasters International. He is a past president of the Dallas Chapter of the NSA. Russ was the NSA national Member of the Year in 2000 and has a personal home page at www.russhicks.com.

You can post Questions/comments to the author before October 22, 2004.

Class Reunions

by Russ Hicks
from Texas, USA

Many years ago I went to my 25th high school reunion. It was the first one I had attended, being too much of a chicken to go to any of the earlier ones. And during the festivities I ran into one of my old girlfriends (actually I flatter myself as she was one of the school beauties...) and we sat down to get reacquainted. In the course of the conversation I mentioned my involvement with the NSA and how much I enjoyed the conventions, yada, yada, yada... And she looked at me kinda puzzled and asked if I had stuttered in high school. Well DUH!!!! That was absolutely the WORST time of my life!! I did a double and triple take and asked "You don't remember???" It crossed my mind in a flashing nightmare that she didn't remember me AT ALL - and I was crushed!

But as we talked further, yes, she certainly did remember me and some of the really nice things we had done together, choir trips, outings, classes together, basketball games, all the normal stuff. But she absolutely did NOT remember me stuttering! I could NOT believe that! I always realized that she was better looking than she was smart , but for her not to remember me stuttering was just inconceivable. (Remember I'm totally OVERT and never had any skills to hide it AT ALL.) I defined myself as "the kid who stuttered" but she shook her head and simply did NOT remember me stuttering. To this day I shake my head in total disbelief.

The balance of the reunion was more fun than I could have ever imagined. People were SO NICE!!! Even the cheerleaders and football jocks who would never give me the time of day in school were incredibly nice and interested in my family, kids, grandkids, etc. Yeah, we talked very briefly about my stuttering, and most of them did remember that I stuttered, but it took some mental effort for them to dig that out... and they really didn't even seem that interested. It was a total "nit' to them.

Thinking back on all that - especially my old girl friend - made me realize how little OTHER people think about MY speech. It may be a monstrous deal to ME, but to them it was almost insignificant. What a humbling experience... We really DO make a mountain out of a mole hill there.

You can post Questions/comments to the author before October 22, 2004.

March 25, 2004

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