In the fifth grade, Meredith Kelly and I kindled a romance through a series of love letters condensed onto 3 by 5 index cards, which we delivered to one another through appointed emissaries. At recess, she often waited for me to come talk to her, but I never gathered up the courage to do it. I explained to her in my notes that I couldnt speak to her because of my stutter. Meredith assured me, in handwriting that managed both neatness and warmth, that she thought my stutter was cute. I didnt buy it. I was perfectly content to let our relationship exist in theory, unmarred by the messiness of physical contact and the spoken word. The relationship buckled under the weight of my silence, and Meredith moved on to Ben, a charismatic class clown.