November 27, 2009

Adventures at Uni Chapter 32 or cool v geek

Now, since I started my second semester, with the exception of one meeting, I have neglected my Vienna Speakers club duties. The twice monthly meetings coincide with two tutorials on Tuesday nights. I'd have to go to three places at once. That kind of sucks. Therefore I set my priorities and chose the dullest one ie the one lecture I am happy to completely neglect otherwise. Transcription.

Yesterday, I decided: fuck it. I am going to the Speakers Club meeting. I had received the agenda prior to the meeting and knew that Australian guy was going to be there. He's someone fun to talk to, as opposed to all the other nice but rather pompous people.

One person canceled at the last minute. I was asked to step in as the "ah" counter. You see, at these meetings, its all very formal. So right up my freakin street. I just love seeing people in suits and ties. In their free time. And uber nerd geeks with a small man's complex who come in with briefcases, charts and shit like that. [briefcases?] Meetings go from 7PM - 10PM. Dinner break in between.

The Madame Speaker person takes the podium. Bla bla whatever. [excuse me, are we in congress here? debating the fates of millions of people? ]

So the first half goes down. The tabletop discussions. You get a topic thrown at you and you have to wing it ie speak, standing up, for two minutes. Easy.

Topic: you are the winner of the Guinness Book of records in eating 7 Ferrero Rochers in one minute [who the dipshit thought this up?] . Please give your acceptance speech. You have two minutes.

me: [I stand up. Why the hell did I sign up for this again? ] I want to thank my mom and dad, for supplying me with enough allowance to buy my own chocolate mints when I was supposed to be selling door to door in our neighborhood. They endowed me with the capacity to change and surprise. I am an unapologetic believer in true love, soul mates and other touchstones of greeting card mythology. So what better brand to choose for my shake-the-foundations-of human-kind-to-its-very-core undertaking than Ferrero? Their chocolates are bold and rotund, sending jolts of rapture throughout my body. Furthering the cause of obesity and diabetes has always been close to my heart. Ferrero's accommodation of something that complex is inspiring. And their above and beyond the call of duty support of various procedures (liposuction, fasting retreats, teeth bleaching) so that I can shine as a true figure of perfection while promoting their product is......well........just awesome!

My next record attempt will be the consumption of se7en jars of nutella in under 2 minutes. Until then, this world record is truly an accomplishment I can ride on. Thank you. "

A round of applause. I sit down and resume my "ah" counting. I, uh, didn't know that, ah, I needed to be that, uh, precise" You get the picture.

Prepared speeches were on the schedule after the break. Four speakers, five to seven minutes each. One guy, we'll call him Suddenly Seymour, had a total of 26 "ahs". The chart guy.

I already had ants in my pants and wanted to take off but responsible person that I am, I took my job seriously [not really] and stayed. At the end, the evaluator [Harald - for reasons of ethics, I haven't changed his name. Its really "Harald"] asks each of his team, ceremoniously, to stand and report on their respective duties.

First, Goran stands up and reports the duration of each speech: Madame speaker, fellow toastmasters. I am reporting the duration of each speech given. Number 1 bla bla bla. This goes one for about 2 minutes.

Statistics were taken on the table topics as well. Shit. I didn't write down the "ahs" for that. Ok, well, improvisation is called for. Shit. I forgot the names. Name tags. Elbow on table, chin in hand, a nonchalant glance at name tags, I jot down a couple of "ahs" next to each name. [ the non-native speakers use fewer "ahs" then us. Wonder why?] All this is done on the sly as the others seated around the conference table look in rapture at what Goran is saying. Probably because they don't understand a word he is saying. Next up the Grammarian. He mumbles something. No clue. My turn.

me: [standing up and skipping the greeting] Was I supposed to count the table top topics as well? [glance at Harald}
Harald: [toothy smile. He always has a bloody toothy smile] yes
me: ok, well, Irmgard: 3, Harry: 1, Elina: 1, bla. Ah counts for the prepared speeches: Elina: 2, Thomas: 26, Winston: 3, Peter: 4. Thats all. [I sit down again]

All look at me expectantly. Brief silence. Did I do something wrong?

Harald: I counted 10 on Jarvis. Thats a quite a large discrepancy. [dude, I counted six. Four is a huge discrepancy? lighten up] I was observing you. You should have pen in hand, poised, ready to mark at all times
me: [wtf?] I will be sure to keep that in mind for next time. [is there a particle collider around?]

Let me be perfectly clear: I am not slagging off people who want to improve themselves. At all. Its very honorable and demonstrates a concerted effort of stepping out of one's comfort zone. I am all for that. Hell, I'm doing it. But honestly, do people have to be so totally anal and pedantic bores about it? Especially Mr. left over Woodstock hippy jerk organic sea weed eating permanent wedgie touting 'cause his wears his jeans up to his armpits dude. Hate figures are inherently more satisfying.

And what happened to the easy-going guy from down under with the Go to Hell t-shirt? Today he showed up wearing a button down shirt. And a tailored jacket. Yikes. A toastmaster zombie.

You can either be chill about things or anal about things. I prefer the former.

The annual Christmas party is sure to be a blast.

Note to myself: do not mention this blog. Otherwise Suddenly Seymour will bash me with his briefcase and Harald will swat me with his organic recyclable diapers.

picture credits:
cool: Philip Jenewein, an awesome skater and super nice guy. He has kindly allowed me to use one of his pics to visualize my point. He is also the founder of the movement "wheels against cancer"
geek: Suddenly Seymour screen shot from "Little Shop of Horrors"

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