People might think that because I often speak my opinion that I must be a good speaker. This is #FALSE. People think that because I write a column that I must also be a good speaker. This is #FALSE. People think that I think very highly of myself because I have a column. This is #FALSE. People think that I know how to use a hashtag. This is #FALSE. (Clearly.)
I hate public speaking. This might have something to do with the fact that I am not too fond of the public in general, but that is for another time and another column. I was given the opportunity to speak over Passover. This was a great chance for me to conquer my fear of public speaking. For those lucky guests of son #2’s bar mitzvah, they got to witness the episode of “Big Girl Almost Passes Out,” and not because she had too much to drink. It was frightening. Frightening for me as the speaker, and frightening for the front row, who almost had the large speaker collapse on them. Not a pretty picture.
But a happy ending because I lost four pounds in one afternoon.
In any event, a friend of mine on Facebook (because that is where most of my friends live) had started posting things about joining this club, called Toastmasters. She said that she was going to start having to give speeches for her job, and this club was going to help her learn to be a better speaker. I was intrigued. Intrigued enough to google Toastmasters. Wouldn’t you know it, there was a Toastmasters club right in Bergenfield? This was too easy. The kind man on the phone told me where to go, when to show up, and how much it would cost if I decided to join. I was intrigued, but also a little hesitant. It all seemed too easy. Was I going to be kidnapped and sold into white slavery? Was I walking into a cult? Would I soon be chanting mantras like, “My husband is the king and I am his humble servant” or “I love cleaning toilets”? Who knew what was in store for me.
But my fear of public speaking overshadowed my hesitation to join a cult. Maybe I would look better with a shaved head and a tattoo of an eagle. I was speaking in front of people who didn’t know me, and I had to learn how to do it without falling on anyone or sweating to the point of dehydration. Though still wary of the whole white slavery scenario, I did ask a friend of mine if he would join me, but he declined because of work (and because he probably didn’t want to join a cult) and since I hate rejection, I didn’t ask anyone else. So this big girl was on her own.
I showed up at the first meeting and was pleasantly surprised that I didn’t know one person there. Not only didn’t I know anyone, I had never seen anyone in the room before in my entire life. Good start. But maybe bad, because there was still the possibility of both cult membership and white slavery — but I sat down because everyone was looking for me, and after taking inventory of the other members, I saw I was the largest one in the room. Which I guess was a good thing, in case they did try to kidnap me.
Turns out, it was a surprisingly pleasant experience. I was called up for something called “Table Topics” and I was supposed to discuss my favorite part of Christmas. I told everyone that my favorite part was going to see the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree because that is where husband #1 attempted to ask me to marry him. I say “attempted” because he never actually asked, he just kind of stared at me, possibly hoping that I would say no, but in any case, I told that story with little to no sarcasm (which was painful for me, but I need to ease into new crowds. Don’t want to be scaring anyone right off the bat). Everyone clapped (they do that for everyone) and then I sat down. Maybe this is just what I need, positive affirmation…hmmm.
So, did I end up joining a cult? Have I learned how to speak? What is Toastmasters, really? Tune in next week…when the questions and answers just keep on coming!
Banji Ganchrow likes the name Toastmaster because it makes her think of toast, especially cinnamon toast, which is a no-fail comfort food. In addition, she would like to give a shout out to son #2 and his classmates, who walked from Shaalavim to Jerusalem this week. It’s more than 30 miles. She doesn’t know why they did this, but she is happy they all survived.