College Speech Class

I was born shy.

My brother Tony was shy as well.
He sent me over to the neighbors’ house to borrow their encyclopedias because he was too shy to go and ask for himself.

I can talk a good game here, but in real life, I’m pretty shaky.
It can take me years before I am comfortable enough to go out to eat with a friend. I’m getting better, though.
And what is the worst thing that can happen to a shy guy like me?—College Speech Class.

I put that class off as long as I could.
I dreaded it.

I was working at a restaurant as a server at the time.
The instructor for Speech Class was a regular at the restaurant.
He called me by my name, “Lynn,” and I called him “Mr. Wilson.”

I knew I was going to have to bite the bullet and take his class.
So, one day at work, I asked him about his “Speech Class.”
He told me that it wasn’t as bad as people make it out to be.
He even told me that he only gave two grades.—A or B
He said, “If you can stand up and give a speech on something, I’ll give you a ‘B’ for trying. If you give a good speech, I’ll give you an ‘A.'”

Before I signed up for his class, I went to see my doctor.

“Doc, I can’t give a speech. It isn’t possible. You have to help me. Can you write me a note or something?”
It worked for P.E., so it was worth a shot, I thought.
No dice.
I had to take the “Speech Class.”

My doctor did give me this advice, though.
“Buy some sleeping pills, and thirty minutes before you give your speech, take half of a sleeping pill.” (Side Note Don’t try this; I’m not a doctor. This is not medical advice.)
He said it would loosen me up.

I signed up for Speech Class.
We were to give a five-minute speech once every other week.
I was on the first row, the fourth chair from the front.
On the days that I was to give a speech, I would pop half a sleeping pill approximately thirty minutes before time to give my speech.
The first person on our row would go first and give a five-minute speech. Then, the second person and so on.
So, I would pop my pill before the first person got up to speak.

Every other week, I would walk up to the podium, staring at the wall in the back of the room, fumble through my note cards, and start my speech, “Oh, God…” (Take a deep breath) “Thank you all for being here today …”
I haven’t a clue what I spoke about each time, but I know that I got through it.
The half a sleeping pill did help me to get through it.
It may have been a placebo effect, I don’t know, But I got through it.

Then came the final. — A ten-minute speech.
A shy person in my situation thinks about things like the final weeks ahead of time.
I think about it. I worry about it. I try to figure out each step.
I even memorize where people are sitting, where the clock is on the wall. It’s a whole thing.
I also decided to take the whole sleeping pill for the final.
I mean, a half a pill for five minutes so, a whole pill for ten minutes. Right?

I decided to do my speech on “Styrofoam.”
Yep. I was going to take a sleeping pill. Then, speak about Styrofoam in front of a classroom of my peers. —For ten-minutes
It couldn’t lose.

I did my research. The internet was pretty new, but with “WebCrawler,” the search engine of the day, I could get all the information I needed.

The day came, and I popped my sleeping pill approximately thirty minutes before I was to speak.
One guy brought a tent into the classroom and gave a speech on how to assemble a tent.
The next student gave an energetic speech on the future of online banking. Remember, the internet was still new. I remember how excited she was about all the possibilities.
The next guy brought in his fishing rod and gave a speech on the types of lures to use depending on the weather.

Then came me…
I was scared. All I had was…Styrofoam…
It was my turn. I was still awake. (I know you were wondering)
I got up and walked up to the podium.
I had my note cards in my shaky hands.
I began, “Oh, God…” “Thank you all for being here today …”

I got a “B” in the class.

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