It was a hot day in August.
One of the first of my elementary school days.
“Can you see your breath?” the teacher asked the class.
“Well, no! That was a stupid question,” I thought to myself.
“O o o o o o oof c c c c c course y y y you c c c c...” said the smartest kid in the class.
He went on, doing his best to control his stuttering, trying to explain that only when the temperature drops below 45 degrees could one see his breath.
This is what came to mind years ago as I watched the movie “The King’s Speech” at the Great Plains Theatre when it was on Mulberry Street.
Colin Firth portrayed King George VI who, like the smartest kid in my elementary class, stuttered.
In the movie, King George’s stuttering wasn’t a huge problem until along came radio.
What I took away from that movie was that in order to control his stuttering, King George worked at it every single day.
In my elementary years I was a poor reader. At least that is what my teacher said.
I was given special reading instruction at the school across the street from my parochial school. The lessons were one-on-one with a reading teacher.
“You are NOT lazy,” the teacher told me one day.
Apparently my classroom teacher had given her that description of me.
To this day, I think of myself as a poor reader even though I read thousands of words a day.
I interviewed for a position with radio years ago. That was a disaster.
I was told that I had the voice for radio but then came the test.
“Read this,” I was told, given a list of news stories.
I think it was a set up as I was given a list of trick stories with unfamiliar words.
I thought I could just record the news and edit out the mistakes.
“We do it live,” I was told.
Radio was not in my future and I still don’t like to read out loud.
This all came to mind on Wednesday when Joe Biden was sworn in as president.
Like King George, Biden stuttered in grade school and still struggles with it.
When it came to elementary school, Biden and I faced the same fear of reading out loud in class. It wasn’t that we couldn’t read, we just couldn’t read out loud.
Young Joe Biden came up with a solution.
According to the book “Joey” by Jill Biden, when it came to reading in class, Biden would count the desks in advance to figure out which passage he would be called upon to recite.
“Then he would memorize it, practicing when to pause, pretending that he was reading it out loud,” she wrote.
Biden has worked hard to overcome his stuttering and now makes a living giving speeches.
I still can’t read out loud seamlessly but I make my living reading and writing words.
As Alanis Morrissette would sing, “Isn’t it ironic?”