Hate is a strong word, but…

I was still in a good mood here, thanks to the fine students at Trine Univeristy in Angola, Indiana.

I was still in a good mood here, thanks to the fine students at Trine University in Angola, Indiana.

Last week, after a speaking engagement at Trine University in Northeast Indiana, I decided to travel past my hotel’s exit in search of a bite to eat; however, instead of finding a delicious meal, I wound up finding a toll road that took me all the way into Ohio before allowing me the opportunity to turn around.

Forty-eight minutes later, I made it back to my hotel room and dined on cookies, which was not the delicious meal I was looking for.

I hate tolls. I mean I really hate them. It’s one thing to have them as a convenient alternative but when it’s basically the only choice, I hate them.

Don’t I pay taxes for roads and bridges?

I was bitter that night and harped on all the things I hate in life. Hate is a strong word but it is what it is.

For example, I hate the expression, “It is what it is.”

I hate to see a dog wearing clothes. I don’t care if it is a cute Auburn sweater. A dog should never wear clothes. I don’t care how cold it is.

No comment.

No comment.

Speaking of cold weather, I hate it. Well, I kind of hate cold weather. I don’t mind it; I just hate being stuck out in it. I blame the Army for that. There is nothing fun about pulling guard duty in the dead of winter in the dead of night at Ft. Sill, Oklahoma. The wind is relentless and will cut right through any kind “snivel gear.”

Shaving in the field on a cold winter’s morning is one of the reasons I hate shaving so much.

Broccoli. ‘Nuff said.

I do hate some people. I know we are to “Hate the sin but love the sinner,” but that is easier said than done. The fact is that I do hate some people. I could lie and say that I don’t but then I’d be sinning twice on the same topic, so yeah, I hate some people.

I recently saw a video on Facebook of a lady throwing newborn puppies into a river. I hate her.

My mother used to tell a story about her school bus driver tossing a bag of kittens into a creek one morning on the way to school. It’s easy for us in 2013 to call that cruelty to animals but this was 50 years ago and was just a way of dealing with unwanted pets. They were wrapped up in a burlap sack. He didn’t enjoy the task at hand.

The lady tossing the puppies 30 feet into the air, one by one, was pure evil. I hate her.

I hate “hate crimes.” First of all, I hate any type of criminal activity, but I hate “hate crime” laws, too. To quote Hillary Clinton, “What difference does it make?” Dead is dead, regardless of motive.

If I’m killed for my wallet, doesn’t that send a message to everyone else that carries a wallet?

I hate real bullies, but I also hate how the anti-bullying campaign has just gone overboard. I also hate to hear it used as a verb.

I was picked on and teased every day when I was a kid. I hated it, but based on all the public service announcements and such, one would think that getting picked on is a new thing.

To me, a bully is Butch from The Little Rascals or Buddy Hinton from The Brady Bunch, but according to the government’s campaign, bullying also includes spreading rumors and excluding others from groups.

Butch from the Little Rascals. He was a bully and always wound up on the wrong side of right.

Butch from the Little Rascals. He was a bully and always wound up on the wrong side of right.

I thought school was supposed to prepare kids for life and the real challenges of life but instead tries to create a social Utopia, which is not the real world. I think the over protection of kids will make them less resilient in the long run. There will always be unpleasant people in society. We must learn to deal with them.

Some of the biggest bullies I dealt with as a child are some of my best friends today.

I hate loud music. I don’t care if it’s Luke Bryan or Lil Wayne. Turn that junk down. If I want to hear that “boom boom”, I’ll play it myself.

I hate when people blow their nose in public, particularly at the table while I’m trying to eat. Do you think it’s ok to do so? It’s not.

Do you see what I did there?

I hate crooked politicians.

I hate bad breath.

I really hate crooked politicians with bad breath.

Rod Blagojevich, crooked with bad breath.

The very crooked Rod Blagojevich, trying to hide his bad breath.

I hate when my egg isn’t fully cooked and still contains some of that runny white stuff. I hate talking on the phone. I hate reality TV. I hate profanity in public. I hate dirty bathrooms.

Hate is a strong word, but sometimes, at least for me, seems quite appropriate. The good thing is that we don’t have to dwell on all the negativity life dishes out. There will always be unpleasantness in the world. We just have to deal with it.

Jody Fuller is a comic, speaker, writer and soldier with three tours of duty in Iraq. He is also a lifetime stutterer.  He can be reached at jody@jodyfuller.com. For more information, please visit http://www.jodyfuller.com.

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“That’s all I can stands. I can’t stands no more.”

I’m going to get in trouble for this one but to quote a famous animated sailor, “That’s all I can stands. I can’t stands no more.”

Last Friday night in the Lone Star State, the Aledo Bearcats squeaked past the Western Hills Cougars by a score of 91-0. You read that correctly, ninety-one to nothing. Zero. Nada. Zilch.

91-0

Are you kidding me?

The coach ought to be ashamed of himself for running up the score on the helpless Cougars, right? Well, to quote a college football icon, “Not so fast, my friend.”

Did you know Lee Corso was roommates at Florida State with football player, actor, and bandit Burt Reynolds?

Did you know Lee Corso was roommates at Florida State with football player, actor, and bandit Burt Reynolds?

It’s easy to look at the score and assume that the Bearcats displayed poor sportsmanship, but we all know what assuming does.

Apparently Aledo’s Head Coach, Tim Buchanan, called off the dogs early. He began substituting players in the first quarter, let the clock run continuously, and instructed his players to call fair catches after back to back punt returns. By the end of the game, every player on the roster had seen playing time.

They only threw the ball 10 times the entire game and nine different running backs carried the ball an average of 2.6 times apiece.

Should the coaches have told the players not to run hard? Absolutely not! That’s when injuries happen. Should the coaches have told the players to take a knee? Heck no! The Bearcats ran the ball, and the Cougars couldn’t tackle them. It’s as simple as that. Should the coaches have told the defense to let the opposing team score? No way! That’s insane. Should they have turned the ball over purposely? No coach would ever do that, right?

Coach Buchanan did everything he could think of not to score.

One of the parents of the defeated Cougars filed an official complaint of bullying against the entire Bearcat coaching staff.

Are you kidding me?

Western Hills Coach John Naylor said he disagrees with the allegations that his team was bullied.

“I think the game was handled fine,” Western Hills coach John Naylor said. “They’re No. 1 for a reason, and I know Coach Buchanan. We’re fighting a real uphill battle right now.

“We just ran into a buzz saw, you know,” Naylor said. “Aledo just plays hard. And they’re good sports, and they don’t talk at all. They get after it, and that’s the way football is supposed to be played in Texas.”

The parent set a poor example for his child, even if his heart was in the right place. Some people react emotionally, whereas logical thinking folks react, well, logically.

If he doesn’t want him to lose or to experience the agony of defeat, he needs to withdraw his child from the team, from school, and from life. Perhaps he could live in his parents’ basement for the rest of his life. He’ll be safe there.

This guy is likely so sensitive he goes around crying wolf or cougar or bearcat, oh my!

In life there are winners and losers. It’s as simple as that. Most winners have lost in various aspects of life but learned from their failures and became successful down the road.

Last year, Auburn was 3-9 and suffered a humiliating loss to Texas A & M who put 63 points on the board against the defenseless Tigers. Last Saturday, Auburn avenged that embarrassing loss and defeated the seventh ranked Aggies, on the Aggies’ home field no less and now stand at 6-1 on the season.

The thrill of victory after avenging the previous  year's shellacking!

The thrill of victory after avenging the previous year’s shellacking!

In a California youth football league, there is a mercy rule. If a team wins a game by more than 35 points, the coach faces a $200 fine and possible suspension.

What?

One of the coaches says that he agrees with the league’s enforcement of the penalties and has in the past instructed one of his players to purposely turn over the ball.

Read about California’s “Mercy Rule” here

Are you kidding me?

Ending the game prematurely when the game is out of reach is one thing but purposely not playing hard and giving the ball away is asinine and benefits no one.

We want our children to be resilient; however, we protect them from experiencing situations that build resilience. Negotiating adversity is a part of life and builds character and resilience. In other words, to an extent, it is a good thing.

I think we are setting our children up for failure.

In youth sports leagues across the country, every kid gets a trophy. It doesn’t matter if they lose 91-0; they still get one.

That’s not reality. In reality, it’s ridiculous and detrimental to their reality.

Come back next week for part two as my rant continues and delves into how the anti-bullying campaign, like many other well-intentioned programs, has gotten completely out of hand.

Update: A Texas youth football league is making a change. Organizers say they will no longer handout trophies to every child who plays. Click here to read more.

Jody Fuller is a comic, speaker, writer and soldier. He can be reached at jody@jodyfuller.com. For more information, please visit http://www.jodyfuller.com.

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Embracing Uniqueness

As children across America head back to school, I find myself empathizing with those students who may be a little different from their peers.

My grandfather stuttered, as did my uncle. My brother did, too, and at 41 years young, I still stutter.

It wasn’t too terribly difficult the first couple of years of school. In fact, I don’t recall being made fun of at all, although there was a great deal of curiosity about my abnormal speech.

In the second grade, a classmate asked me why I talked funny. With a straight face, I told her I had a piece of meat stuck in my throat which caused my words to get stuck.

Poor, bad hair, and meat stuck in my throat…..this was 2nd grade for me.

Poor, bad hair, and meat stuck in my throat…..this was 2nd grade for me.

Years later, with a straight face, she asked if I still had that meat stuck in my throat. She was serious.

To this day, stuttering can be difficult, in more ways than one, to explain.

Kids love recess, naps, and show and tell, and I was no different. Recess and naps came easy, and in spite of my speech disorder, I still took part in show and tell just like all the other kids. I just did a whole lot more showing than I did telling.

It’s never easy being a kid, but it’s especially tough when you’re different.

I had trouble saying my name and would often give fake names when meeting new people. It was not uncommon for me to be Jason or Mike, Chris or Kevin, or Calvin. Yes, one time I was Calvin. I don’t really look like a Calvin but that’s what came out.

Most little boys are shy when talking to girls, but I was downright terrified. I can probably count the number of times on one hand that I talked to a girl in elementary school. Years later, many of those same girls told me they thought my stuttering was cute. I wish I’d known that then.

As I got older, some kids started getting meaner and the mocking ensued. Unfortunately, I let it bother me. I shouldn’t have, but I did. I put more stock in what they had to say rather than being thankful for the overwhelming majority of kids who treated me with kindness, respect and compassion. In hindsight, I know that it was a reflection of them and not me. Again, I wish I’d known that then.

My 4th grade picture…with a hair like this, not to mention the sweater vest and collars, I would have made fun of me, too!

My 4th grade picture…with a hair like this, not to mention the sweater vest and collars, I would have made fun of me, too!

It was not uncommon for me to know the answers to questions during class, but it was quite common for me to remain silent out of fear of being ridiculed.

Reading aloud in class was pure torture. The buildup and anticipation of being called upon created more stress and anxiety than I am able to put into words, which resulted in frequent tension headaches.

When it was my time to read, I would lower my head, focus, and stop breathing. I would instinctively hit my thigh with my fist over and over to literally beat the words out of me, whereas other times, I would hit the underside of my desktop.

Giving an oral presentation in front of the class was the ultimate challenge, which usually resulted in ultimate shame. There was nowhere to hide. All eyes were fixed upon me as the secondary effects of stuttering stole the show. My eyes closed and my face contorted as I struggled to get out each word. There was no desk to pound and beating my leg in front the whole class was incredibly awkward.

Kids were mean and I let that bother me. There were very few days this future soldier didn’t find himself crying by the end of the day. I didn’t like who I was and didn’t want to be me.

The funny thing, though, was that it wasn’t the stuttering that caused any of the negative feelings I had, and it wasn’t the bullies, either. It was my reaction to both the stuttering and the bullying.

I let it bother me, but it didn’t have to be like that.

Sometime in the eighth grade, my attitude changed. I don’t recall exactly when, where, how, or why, but I turned what I’d always perceived as a negative into a positive.

I wasn’t an athlete and I wasn’t a genius. I wasn’t in the band and I certainly couldn’t sing, but everyone still knew me, because I stood out, and that was a good thing. I was different and I finally embraced that difference and ran with it.

Instead of waiting in fear for the teacher to call my name, I raised my hand when I knew the answer to a question. I always volunteered to read and even used oral presentations as an opportunity to showcase my comedic talents.

I was in control and would not allow the anxiety or insecurity to control my feelings, attitude, or behavior.

In subsequent years, I’d go on to speak in front of the entire student body on multiple occasions.

Being in control eased most of the tension; inevitably, there were less headaches, secondary effects, and, to a degree, stuttering.

Self-acceptance is crucial to happiness and success in and out of the classroom. It doesn’t mean we can’t strive to improve upon our so-called flaws, but it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t love ourselves and embrace our uniqueness either.

Individuality should be celebrated, not suppressed and certainly not mocked.

I went from a stuttering kid who seldom spoke a word to a stuttering man who now speaks for a living.

The Speaker

The Speaker

It’s never easy being a kid, but it’s especially tough when you’re different, but it doesn’t have to be.

The time to embrace your uniqueness is now.

Signed, Calvin.

Jody Fuller is a comic, speaker, writer, and soldier. He can be reached at jody@jodyfuller.com. For more information, please visit www.jodyfuller.com.

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