Toast Masters: Recap

Ok, so I lied to you. I promised a recap on Thursday and I didn’t deliver. Those of you who know me well enough probably weren’t actually looking. You are well trained!

Let me start by saying I didn’t actually join on Wednesday. I discovered a loophole – a loophole that allowed me to attend as a “guest” and since the person who invited me didn’t flinch at the idea, I pretended like this was my intent all along. Guests only have to identify themselves in the meeting and mention what spurred them to attend. When my turn came around, I cheated by repeating what the woman who spoke before me said only I actually remembered to use my own name. Thankfully, we both work in the same area and we were both encouraged to come by the same person otherwise, there could have been a mess of awkwardness once my turn came around. “Hi, my name is Farzana. I’m the CEO of… no wait, can I have a do-over?” which would have sent me nervously digging through my purse to find my driver’s license.

The meeting opened with an invocation, followed by the word-of-the-day and finally a joke, which I didn’t get, but made me laugh pretty hard because the person who told the joke was really tickled. In fact, I want to hear more of her jokes, because physically she’s the best joke teller I’ve seen – she had a huge smile, she acted out all the characters in her joke, she clapped her hands at the punch line and then doubled over giggling hysterically. I couldn’t help but laugh. After the meeting, I had to ask someone to retell the joke. I tried to picture myself telling a joke and it wasn’t going well for me. In truth, I really don’t know any jokes. Well, there’s one about talking muffins and there’s the one that goes, “what’s green and has wheels? GRASS! …and I lied about the wheels” and another about Michael Jackson, which is now more inappropriate than usual. OH OH OH and there’s this other that ends with “I’m a frayed knot!” Get it? See, that reaction you’re having right now, it’s the same one I’d get if I delivered any of these rim-shot winners to a group.

The meeting focused around two speeches, each lasting approximately 5-8 minutes – both had very powerful opening statements and they were both well-delivered by the speakers. However, one speech did make me clench my hands together. The opening went “Everything is bigger in Texas” (dramatic pause) “including its people”. Fair enough. Good intro to begin talking about the growing problem with obesity in the state, but then he went a little further. “Some of YOU are obese.” Now, as the biggest person in the room who looks like they ate a couple of would-be attendees pre-meeting, I took that on the chins and had to force a smile. The woman next to me immediately shot me a look and whispered, “oh, I know he’s not talking about me” to which I replied, “well, he’s not talking about me!” Fortunately, at the end of his speech there wasn’t a Q&A, because I think the woman next to me “might” have drawn blood. In fact, on the way back to our little cube-mole world, she kept saying, “I wish there HAD been a Q&A for his speech. I had some questions for him!” Hey, points to him for entering a room filled with women to address a fairly sensitive subject and having the balls to gesture around the room noting the rampant obesity going on right before his eyes . That he escaped unscathed is a credit to both his speed and agility.

Overall, it was a fairly positive experience. The people in the club were kind and supportive of each other, which seems to push them to excel. Can I personally do it? I don’t know. As each member took their turn addressing the rest of the club, I imagined myself standing where they stood and that image always ended in a lot of stammering or vomiting or collapsing, which could end up being a self-fulfilling meltdown. I’d have to really work on picturing myself succeeding – maybe I could start small.

“What’s green and has wheels?”

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