If someone were to look at my life, they would think it highly improbable that I would become an English professor. In grade school, I woefully dreaded English and spelling classes and then had no respect for literature during my rebellious high school years; furthermore, I had a seemingly debilitating speech impediment that forced me into a speech development program during my early elementary school years. One could look at my life and wonder how a speech-impeded ex-Marine could come to grips with the study of literature.
Events took place during my early years that led me to believe that I was a real ladies man. I always caught the interest of older women—especially at the ballpark.
“Oh, how cute. What’s your name?” a teenage girl would ask.
I would reply, “Cwis Hawwis.”
“What?” she would ask, admiring my coy grin.
“He said Cwis. Your name is Cwis? How cute. Isn’t he just sooo cute?” another girl would say.
I would butt-in, “No. My name is Cwis . . . Cwis!”
During these initial moments, the girls would usually become thoroughly amused and worked into some sort of giggle-ridden frenzy. Pinches and pats almost always came during this juncture, but I refused to give up.
“I’m CWIS. C, H, AW, I, S. CWIS!” I would yell.
The chortling women would eventually, usually, come to grips and figure my name after further interrogation. “Oh, your name is Chris,” one of the girls would say. “His name is Chris. How cute.” The excitement would wind down for only a moment.
Her friend would then ask, “What team do you play on?”
So the agony continued. I can still envision some of those incidents at the ballpark. I was inflicted with the childhood speech-impediment that has recently been referred to as Roger Rabbit Syndrome. I could not pronounce the R sound, and at best, my Rs sounded like perfect Ws.