I have said it many times and it gets more true the older I get: I am a writer, not a talker. In fact, I usually embarrass myself whether I am engaged in casual conversation or attempting to espouse on any topic from current events to a history lesson. My words get jumbled as my mind frantically searches for the appropriate utterances and I often sound like a blithering idiot with the vocabulary of maybe, er—a 4th grader?

I try to tell jokes—everybody does, right? I hear a good one and laugh uproariously but when I try to re-tell it, my listeners usually look at me like they’re waiting for the punchline. I tell them, “It must be in the delivery,” and it really is. The subtle nuances of telling a good joke have evaded me my whole life.

I blame my inability to articulate my thoughts verbally on my childhood—not that I was abused or anything, but I stuttered—badly. My speech impediment stayed with me all through school, but thankfully has resolved over the years. However, an impairment like that is always lurking in the back of your mind when you worry that it will rear its ugly head at the most inopportune moments. 

M’s were particularly hard for me and I found myself surrounded by a wall of M’s daily. For instance, my mom’s name was Mary. So when I called her at work and someone else answered the phone, I panicked. I couldn’t say, “May I please speak with Mrs. Hackert, please?” or Mary Hackert or even ask for my mom. My math teacher was Mr. Morland and my family went to the Methodist Church. I attended Iowa Methodist School of Nursing where I was expected to address all instructors, patients, and supervisors as Mr. and Mrs. So and So. And to top it off, I married a MAN NAMED MARK!

But put a keyboard in front of me and my fingers fly. Sometimes my typing can’t keep up with my thoughts. Granted, I keep a tattered and dog-eared old Roget’s Thesaurus on my desk at all times so I can search for the right word but my writing ability certainly outshines my speaking ability. In fact, writing has been my life-long passion. I know it sounds hopelessly old-fashioned but I’ve always enjoyed writing letters. I can certainly express my thoughts much better that way, not to mention the fact that I can check my spelling, punctuation, and word usage before I print it and mail it off.

Wait a  minute—maybe that’s the key to this whole thing. Perhaps I’m not such a good writer after all. I can remove, re-do, and refine when writing, especially with my computer which is nothing more than a glorified word processor. There are no deletes or do-overs when you’re speaking.

The conclusion of this dissertation is I’m much safer hiding in my office, at my computer, using my imagination to explore and explain my ideas and thoughts. If you need any further explanation, write or email me, but don’t ask me to give a speech. That would maximize my malfunction monumentally and modify my misery most mournfully!

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