So, I was sitting there minding my own business when the phone rang, but this time it wasn't the manager of the grocery store. This time it was a woman representing the county writers' guild. I love that we have one, but I have never given a thought to joining. I don't know why.
This woman, Ms. Snodgrass, which is the greatest name I have ever heard, has been reading my editorials in Small Town's newspaper and has been impressed. She asked if I would consider being the guest speaker at the guild's September meeting. humina humina humina
Let me tell you about me and public speaking. I was a shy child and did not like having to stand up in front of people and speak. That did not change by the time I was a student in high school. I was forced to give speeches in my language classes, and I did whatever I could to escape the torment.
I remember in my freshman year when our huge class of about 300 students was divided by possible grade—if you put off your assignments a certain length of time, there was no way you could get more than a C regardless of your work, so you would be put in a class room with C students, as an example. In that language class, I was usually with the A students, but when speech time came, I let myself be shuffled around until I was finally put in a corner room with the D students, the ones who looked and acted like Judd Nelson in The Breakfast Club. There I was with the boys and girls who normally frightened me in the hallways and in the park after school when they were sneaking joints and planning secret parties.
I have to say they were the nicest and most accepting bunch of kids I had ever spent time with, and they were so supportive of me when I finally stood up and gave my speech with trembling hands and what felt like a wad of cotton in my mouth. A friend recently used the phrase "tightening colon" when referring to nervousness on stage. Nervousness in a speech class has the same effect.
Later in high school, I had to give a speech for a teacher that would not allow anyone to postpone their assigned delivery date. So, when it was my turn to speak, I worked up a fever, went to the school nurse, and was sent home for the day. That's how well I handled public speaking in those days.
I'm not sure I have outgrown this abhorrence for speech giving, but the charm of Ms. Snodgrass led me to accept her challenge. I am mulling over an outline, but presently I have no idea what I will say to these people, all fifteen to twenty of them. I hear they have snacks at these meetings, and I am considering slipping some whiskey in my tea right before I am introduced. If nothing else, that should solve the cotton-mouth dilemma.