Stepping up to the Plate

by Eddie Runyon

I grew up hard of hearing, attended a well-respected public school, and got fairly decent grades in high school. All of the teachers and students were very respectful towards my "hearing disability"... or so I thought.

My senior year in high school, I was visiting a friend's house as she was preparing for her talent portion of the Miss East Kentucky Pageant. I noticed her voice kept cutting in and out. I thought it was the battery on my hearing aid and changed it, but it kept happening. I told my mother we must have bought a bad batch of batteries and thought nothing of it.

As this kept happening even after purchasing new batteries, I went in for a checkup with my ENT doctor. After numerous exams, CAT scans of my head (nothing THERE folks!), etc., I was finally diagnosed with fluid leakage behind my ear drum which would require surgery. I had the surgery and soon returned to school, but was unable to wear my hearing aid while my ear healed.

One day, while in Mrs. Dye's class, all the students got up to leave. Naturally, so did I. I did not look at the clock, just grabbed my stuff to head off to the next class. Once I got out in the hallway, I noticed I was alone.

Where are all the other students?

When I turned the corner, there were all my classmates laughing and pointing at me. Turns out there was still about 10 minutes left in class and they had conspired with the teacher to pull a joke on me.

When we got back into the classroom everyone was still laughing. Not me. I proceeded to get up in front of the class, chew every single one of them out(including the teacher), and told them This is who I am now. I may never be able to hear again. I'll never know until my ear has had a chance to heal from this surgery. But if I remain completely deaf from this point on, I am still me and I think every one of you suck for playing this joke.

I then turned to the teacher and said Life is hard enough without your shit, too. Don't waste your breath, I know...go to the principal's office.

I then left the room and went straight to the principal's office. When the secretary asked why I was there, I told her to just wait for the phone call from the teacher. After that, I felt an immense relief in having realized I don't have to take their BS anymore. Luckily, the principal sided with me and there would be no punishment for me.

Hey, it is funny now that I am older, and I laugh about it now. But it was a watershed event in MY life because I stood up for myself. I probably took it too far though, when I told off the baseball coach who cut me because he was worried I would "get hurt." I defiantly told him that he was a gutless wimp who needed his 6'4" wife to hide behind because he had no balls of his own. Needless to say, that one got me in trouble with the principal.

However, I got my little private revenge several years later when I played COLLEGE baseball at Gallaudet (ironically, as a teammate of Mark Drolsbaugh). Several of my more "acclaimed" classmates never made it past high school ball. The only one who did, happened to be my best friend and he supported me the entire way. He also went on to be a star pitcher at the University of Kentucky and then played minor league for the Detroit Tigers. Don't think I don't remind that old coach of that every time I see him!

I have gone on and become successful at many things since, and I personally attribute it to this event where I learned to stand up for myself.

Eddie Runyon