This one’s an oldie but a goodie…
My Name is Val Brkich, and I Am A Circus Freak
(first published in 2004)
Well…I had my first speech therapy session this week, and I have some startling findings to share with you:
Apparently my fake voice – the low one that I use when I’m in a loud room or when I’m trying to sound manly – is actually my real voice. The voice I thought was my real voice is actually some fake voice that has been hi-jacking my vocal chords since right around puberty. What this means is that, from now on, I will have to speak in my real voice, which used to be my fake voice.
According to my therapist, my high, scratchy, downright disturbing voice has actually been damaging my vocal chords, not to mention scaring away scores of attractive females during my high-school and college years. And if I don’t stop using my fake voice (which I thought was my real voice) at once, I will someday require surgery. How nice.
She also seemed strangely excited during my initial session, and added that she’s only read about cases like mine in text books.This revelation not only surprised me, it also made me feel like a freak in a circus sideshow. However, unlike the Bearded Lady or Jo-Jo the Dog-Faced Boy, my peculiarity has little or no marketing value.
For those of you who only know me from my writing, I have always had a scratchy voice. Actually, “scratchy” doesn’t really give it justice. It’s a weak, high-pitched, irritating, sounds-like-I’m-running-my-vocal-chords-on-a-cheese-grader voice. As long as I can remember, I’ve been greeted by people with the same five words: “What’s wrong with your voice?” Even my closest friends and relatives frequently ask me if I’m sick or if I’ve lost my voice. My voice is so high that when I call for pizza they always say: “And what would you like on that, ma’am?”
As hilarious as this may sound to you, it’s actually quite annoying to me. So annoying, in fact, that I decided to have my throat professionally examined.
First I visited an ear, nose, and throat specialist named Dr. Matt, who, after I explained my problem, informed me that the best way to examine my throat would be through a special type of camera that he would insert into my nose. After picking me up off the floor and reviving me, Dr. Matt tried to calm me by saying that the nose camera “actually sounds worse than it is.”
This was a lie.
After numbing my nose with some kind of nasal Novacaine, Dr. Matt then inserted a long, skinny tube into my left nostril and carefully navigated his way into my throat. I then made a series of disturbing noises and tried not to vomit while he examined my vocal chords.
After a few seconds, Dr. Matt removed the nose camera thingy and told me that “everything looked fine”. I was frustrated that I still didn’t have an answer, but I was also relieved to hear that the scratchiness of my voice wasn’t due to some tumor or, even worse, a small slimy amphibian.
As Dr. Matt wrote up my prescription, I began to notice that the nasal Novacaine was moving down through the roof of my mouth and into my upper lip and front teeth, rendering them completely numb. The good doctor informed me that the numbness was natural and “would wear off in 10 to 15 minutes”, which apparently in medical terms equates to 6 or 7 hours. After slurping my dinner through a straw that evening, I finally regained feeling in my front teeth around bedtime.
And this is how I found myself in speech therapy.
The good news is that, after a while, my voice should actually become clearer and stronger. The bad news is that, for the next several months, I will be freaking out my friends, relatives, and co-workers with my new masculine voice. This will be a challenge for my friends, many of whom have made lucrative careers out of ridiculing my scratchy effeminate voice.
It’s kind of sad really. Painful and humiliating as it may be, I think I’ll miss my ridiculously high, scratchy voice. It’s been a part of me for so long, and it will be difficult to let it go. No more singing along with Celine Dion in the shower; no more Axl Rose impersonations at karaoke night; no more hearing “What’s wrong with your voice?” on a daily basis.
(Oh, wait…that’s a good thing.)
So this is it, loyal readers: the last time you’ll read an article written by Valentine Brkich—the writer with the freakishly high, scratchy voice, who sounds like a woman. From now on, you’ll be reading articles written by the new and improved Valentine Brkich —the writer with the much lower, more masculine voice, who used to sound like a woman.
See you on the other side.
(PS: You probably didn’t notice, but I’m actually writing in my lower voice right now. Impressive, huh?)