25 October, 2018

Voted In

I was never much of a joiner, but the moment I saw Gavel Club (an affiliate of  Toastmasters) among the available programs at ERDCC, my new digs, I had to sign up. Public speaking is neither something I'm great at nor a phobia I harbor. I don't care for mediocrity, so there's room to improve. Gavel Club seemed like just the ticket. Maybe I'd meet some intelligent people in the bargain.

At first I was wait-listed. But my first meeting, 3 October, I dove right in. When volunteers for an informal debate were called for, my hand shot up. Later, I gave a two-minute "Table Topics" speech on the assigned subject of what type of animal I'd most like to be. ("So, in conclusion, meow.") This was fun stuff — thinking on my feet, tailoring my remarks to suit a diverse audience, learning the ins and outs of meetings' structure. The longer I sat watching and listening, the more I knew this would be worth two hours of my week.

Yesterday was my third meeting as a guest, and, in accordance with the club bylaws, the "Gaveleers" voted on whether to grant me membership. The Seargeant-at-Arms led me into the hallway so everyone could talk about me behind a closed door, while the day's Toastmaster (basically an emcee) chatted with me about what ten years' membership has done for him. When I re-entered, it was to the room's applause.

My friend John laughed when I told him I'd joined. "Toastmasters is so pompous and affected," he said, "but of course you like all those rules of order. Discipline. Restraint." He wasn't wrong.

In a few weeks I'm scheduled to deliver my first proper speech, a four- to six-minute autobiographical "icebreaker." My $3 annual dues will be paid on the first. My cellmate, Hopper, suspects that I'll be an officeholder within six months. I told him, "I don't share your confidence, but thanks for your vote."

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