Why? Why would you betray me like this?
I trusted you. I gave you my everything, and you went and pulled this shitake mushrooms?
We all know voice cracking isn’t incredibly uncommon. It happens to the best of us. Even the best voices to ever grace our ears hit speed bumps every now and then. I bet some nights when he’s unwinding and getting ready for bed, Morgan Freeman lets a crack slip into conversation. If the king of voiceovers himself can let his inner 13-year-old out, I should be allowed to let my voice crack once in awhile.
But no. For some reason, I am held to a higher standard than Freeman. By some unfounded logic, Matthew Harmon is not allowed to sneak in a voice crack without an incomprehensible amount of judgment falling upon his shoulders.
We can all agree puberty was a female dog. Whoever paints puberty as a time of beautiful blossoming can take a long walk off a short pier.
During my freshman year of high school, my voice was squeaking more than a rickety floorboard. I couldn’t stop it. Every time I opened my mouth, my voice tried to do gymnastics, flipping around and eventually crashing and burning. However, in this tumultuous time, I wasn’t alone: Almost everyone was in the same boat. Kids were accidentally hitting Michael Jackson high notes left and right.
But in my 20s, I am alone. No solidarity for the occasional squeak when it comes out of a 20-year-old.
Let’s set the scene. Huge lecture hall. Over 200 students staring at a screen, iClickers poised and ready to fire at a moment’s notice, some diligently taking notes and others trying desperately to stay awake.
I am of the latter cohort.
I wasn’t trying to doze off. It’s never my intention, but sometimes numbers just lull me to sleep. I was never a math or science person (which kind of explains why I’m spending my free time writing this column) so whenever mathematic mumbo-jumbo like logarithms and parabolas start getting thrown around, you can guarantee I just bought a one-way ticket to Snoozeville.
If you had seen my face, you would have been bored just by the transitive property (that’s some geometry knowledge for you, you’re welcome). Everything was in one ear and right out the other for me. Though my eyes were open and the lights were on, no one was home.
If you’ve stuck with this column for this long (which at this point is probably just my mom and the Statement editors), there’s something you should know about me. I get the worst second-hand embarrassment of anyone I know. If someone told me to run around in the street screaming “September” by Earth, Wind, and Fire, I’d probably do it in a heartbeat, but sit me down in front of someone else doing the same thing, you’ll see me squirm and avert my eyes. I can’t explain it but it’s the gospel truth.
The worst is when a professor asks a question and has the audacity to wait for someone to answer. If we don’t know, we won’t raise our hand. It’s as simple as that. However, I’d rather be outwardly wrong than sit in that professor-induced awkward moment. So when the professor in this lecture asked a question and no one wanted to answer, I knew what had to be done.
Someone had to be a hero and say something.
This was my moment. I was about to step into my supersuit. The entire class would lift me up and parade me out of the lecture hall for having saved them from the silence. I was ready to shine.
Did I know the answer? No.
Did I care? Not at all.
Everything happened in slow motion. My hand crept into the air. I saw my professor’s face light up. His arm reached out and pointed at me. I think he was more so shocked that I was even willing to speak. He knew I wasn’t in the mood for numbers but I guess he thought I was giving it the good old college try.
“Yes, you in the back!” the professor said.
I was ready. I opened my mouth, ready to B.S. harder than I ever have before, but instead of some meaningless mathematical jargon, a tiny peep echoed across the room.
“I try to make a sound but no one hears me.”
In all my years of living, I had never seen more heads dart towards me at once until that day. Every single person in that lecture hall heard my vocal throwback to middle school. The entire purpose of me raising my hand was to break the silence, and break the silence I did.
What did I do to deserve this fate? I’m just an average dude. I pay my taxes when applicable. I sometimes hold the door for people assuming they aren’t too far away for it to be inconvenient. I do that little white person jog across the street when a car is waiting to turn.
Why do bad things happen to mediocre people?
I wanted to just click my heels and magically be hundreds of miles away from that lecture hall seat.
Have you ever seen those ostrich pillows where you can lay on your desk with your entire head covered by comfort? I wanted to bury myself 10 feet under. I couldn’t even answer the professor’s question. He waited patiently again but I was just silent.
Then the waiting began again. The endless waiting.
I had failed. I let my class down but somehow — more importantly — I let myself down.
When duty called, my voice box kept me from realizing my true potential. Instead of being championed by the class like Rudy after the last play, I left class with my head hung low.
Shame. It’s a thing we feel from time to time. But we learn from our mistakes. We move forward, endlessly striving for better days. Did I learn anything this time around? Yes.
I learned to shut my fricking mouth or else middle school Matt is going to make an incredibly unsolicited appearance.
The best we can do in times like these is recognize your place in this world and laugh. And sometimes write a column about it.
And the award for biggest L of lecture history goes to … My prepubescent vocal chords.