Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Speechless

I am making myself physically ill over a speech I have to give in a few weeks.

I will be saying this speech in front of about 190 people, half of which will be close friends or relatives of mine (so, chances are, they will still love me no matter how I do with this speech), while the other half I will not know at all (which means I shouldn't really care what they think of me).

I will say this speech wearing an expensive dark brown gown with a blue sash around the waste. (Not to mention gold Princess Amneris shoes.)Many of these people will most likely have a few drinks in them, and probably won't even remember this speech. I am not the star of this special day, and I bet nobody will even be paying attention to me.

However, I am still ready to throw-up at the thought of giving this speech.

I have to make the Maid-of-Honor toast at my sister's wedding.

Honestly, I have never had any problem with public speaking. When I was 7, I had to read a passage at the 2nd grade mass. It was a very long one, about Cain and Abel, and for some reason, I decided I should memorize it instead of reading it, and I did so. (Why did I do that? Not sure.) I remember people commending my teacher on what a good "reader" I was...but I wasn't reading. I also can still remember my speech from kindgergarten graduation. (Which is when the microphone wasn't working, and I nearly burst into tears.)

When I got older, I continued to nail anything related to public-speaking in school. When I dressed-up like Molly Pitcher and told the story of her life, my 4th grade teacher told me I should be an actress. (This was also the year we had to dress up as a famous New Jerseyan and talk about their lives...I was Frank Sinatra...OF COURSE!) When I hit college, I took the required public speaking course, and when the mornings came for speeches, my classmates would be stressing and going over their notecards. Meanwhile, I wouldn't even THINK about my speech until five minutes before I had to give it. And I always got good grades!

I took a Media Law course, where we had to act out trials, and my professor wrote on my gradesheet, "You are an EXCELLENT public speaker...have you considered becoming an lawyer?"

"No, kind sir...but I have considered...THE STAGE!"

So, I have never had any kind of a problem with public speaking or being in the spotlight.

Until now.

The pressure is on.

My sister told me she really wants me to give a speech, because everybody knows how clever and funny I am. (I can't be clever and funny on demand!) For the past few months, I have been thinking of what I am going to say that day, and I just cannot think of anything good.

There's a billion inside sibling jokes my sister and I have that I could talk about, but nobody else in that room will get them and will just look at me like I am crazy.(For instance, nobody else knows that Natalie Cole's "This Will Be An Everlasting Love" makes us crack up like a couple of freaking goons every time we hear it...honestly, I don't even know why we are so amused by that song) or that we pretend that Jane Kazmarack and Jere Burns are our favorite actors ever. (Once again...no idea why we think that's so funny. But we do. And it is!)

I would love to mention our late father in my speech, but then we'll all start crying and everybody will be like, "Ugh, that little drama queen that had to bring up her dead father and make everybody cry at her sister's wedding!" (Then again, it really would just seem WRONG not to mention Dad at all!)

Or I could just go the easy route and say how happy I am for my sister and Mike and welcome him to the family...but that is really really boring. And not funny or clever at all. And it won't make anybody laugh or cry at all either.

I've gone to about 43 weddings in the past couple of years, and have paid attention to the speeches. I think the most memorable and touching ones are the ones where somebody just starts rambling and makes no sense. I feel those are the best men and maids of honor who are honestly trying the hardest.

I was thinking I could just not give a speech at all, but get up there and start belting out Christina Aguilera's "I Turn to You" and go into "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" and end it with the theme song to The King of Queens. ("I don't care 'cause all I wanna do/is cash my check and drive right home to you!/'Cause baby all my life I will be driving home to you!"

Luckily, I will not be completely alone, as my cousin is the Matron-of-Honor and she wants to say a few words as well. ("You two can do a 'who's on first' thing!!!" her husband quipped. Not a bad idea!)

I am open to suggestions.Come to think of it, my sister is getting married at the Molly Pitcher Inn. It just might be a fine time to drag out my Molly Pitcher costume from the 4th grade and tell the story of her life to the wedding guests!!!!

Diana Rissetto

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