Fire

After I first began lifting weights and started getting pretty buff, I was ready for music camp.  My mom was always trying to get me to go to camps.  I hated going because I stuttered.  I would have to introduce myself and stutter on my name, then they would think I’m either stupid or telling a joke, which for me amounted to the same thing.  But Mom would make me go anyway.  Though it was hard, today I am thankful for her kick out the door.

One of the last nights of music camp they built a bonfire.  The flickering light emboldened me to strike up a conversation with one of the girls I had a crush on.   Anna was as gorgeous as a 7th grader could be, and I suspected that she was interested in me too.  But as we were trying keenly to entertain each other, another guy makes a move.  He walks up and makes as if to join the discussion.  At that moment I am saying something and stuttering heavily.  He chimes in with a loud, dull voice, “st-st-st-st-stupid.”

Anger rises in me.  Thoughts flutter in my brain.  “He’s mocking me…my stuttering…he’s mocking me about stuttering in front of a hot girl…he’s small and annoying.”  In a flash of rage, I see a vision of myself grabbing his belt buckle with my near arm, grabbing his collar with my other hand, pulling him towards me and, in one smooth motion, turning him upside down and throwing him into the fire.  I lean towards him with my hands tense.

I pause.  “Holy crap,” I think to myself, “I am going to kill this kid.”

I realized something about myself that day.  I was now powerful enough to do real damage.  A child can get mad, throw tantrums, and punch blindly with consequences amounting to a handful of bruises at most.  But the tantrums of men can kill.

Anyway, though I didn’t throw him into the fire, I still got the little bastard.  Anna was disgusted by him and sympathized with me.  Stuttering always gets the girls.

This is another myth.

 Also, I wanted to say thanks to all that responded, privately and publicly, to the “Loved in Hell” post.  And in other news, Alicia gets back in less than 2 weeks!  

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About Jer Clifton

Look up, friend. The world is too beautiful for my eyes alone. View all posts by Jer Clifton

10 responses to “Fire

  • Molly

    I always liked the stutter my old friend 🙂 It was endearing and gentling genuine. I miss those days as kids.

  • molly

    Life is pretty great. You ever come to VA or starting next month ever come to SC? We should make a little Bailey/clifton reunion happen so we can meet the new family members 🙂 I am dying to meet the wife. She has got to be amazing, I have no doubt.

  • JDW Clifton

    I’m in Atlanta now and Alicia gets back in two weeks. We should meet up for sure.

  • Nathan C. Clifton

    how thin the veneer between raging beast and calculating man. Methinks it is a wonder the varnish does not crack more often.

    were you buff in 7th grade? where was I in this story?

    Hi Molly!

  • JDW Clifton

    You were someplace else, you know, being mature.

    I was not that buff. But I had just started to not be physically a little kid. I think everyone, or most people who end up being pysically capable, reach a point when they realize they can hurt people, and it gives them pause.

  • Alicia

    Hahaha…. that definitely never happened for me. 🙂

  • Yun

    Heh, sorry, I have to reiterate your brother’s opinion: you didn’t really buff up until the end of HS, so… You were in to younger kids while in HS?

  • Angie

    This is a late post, but I finally have a break in school (ten days!!), so I can reply to some posts that I’ve wanted to reply to.
    I’ve never thought of you as a person who stutters. Actually, the last time I saw you, I was surprised that you stuttered. I had forgotten. You see, stuttering was never something that I identified with you as a person. You’ve got such a huge personality and big ideas, that I forgot about the way that you conveyed those ideas.

    • JDW Clifton

      Breaks are great!!. Thanks Angie. I appreciate it.

      I think it is fairly common for people who haven’t seen me in a while to forget that I stutter. But I am not entirely sure why that is. I think in large part it is because it is not a very severe stutter.

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