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(a contribution to the Random Acts of Journaling collab)

It's the things I might have said that fester.
Clemence Dane

9 May 2002

It sounded perfect when I rehearsed it in my head.

Dr. G couldn't make it to his LeTip meeting today, so asked me to go in his place. At the end of the meeting, everybody has to stand up and give a 30 second plug for his or her own business. I hate that part. Public speaking and I have never been best friends. But at least this time I thought about what to say. I remembered the old ad (can't remember what it's for now), with the actor who says "I'm not a doctor, but I play one on TV..."

So I decided to start with that. "I'm not Dr. G, but I play him at LeTip meetings..."

[wait for the laughs...] could hear it falling flat as a pancake. These were not folks who appreciated the brilliant humor of my opening sentence. I managed to stumble through the rest of my 30 second advertisement, glad that it was so brief.

I am actually an eloquent person. I am a great candidate for debates because I always know the right thing to say. I am the mistress of the bon mot, the quintessential quipster, a golden tongued orator.

Unfortunately, none of you will ever know that, because the words stick in my head, get twisted on my tongue, or don't come to me until the middle of the night. I find the perfect squelch long after I had the opportunity to use it, usually about 3 a.m. when I wake up, still fuming about having let the perfect moment pass.

There's nothing worse than finding "the perfect squelch" several hours too late. It's kind of a Homer Simpson "DOH!!!" moment.

This inability to say the right thing at the right time doesn't end with the right comeback, it extends to contributions to meetings as well. The poor leader at WeightWatchers meetings tries desperately to get audience participation in her inspirational presentation. "How do you feel when...." "what are some ways you have...." "how can you...." "what difference does it make...." We all sit there staring at her, looking like a group that could use some mainline caffeine.

I always have an answer. I always have something to share. I always know that my experience can be helpful to others. I never speak up. I sit there sweating, the words sitting on my tongue right behind my lips, begging to be pushed out into the dead air, but I don't say anything. (Even when the woman next to me says "You've solved that problem, Bev!") On the rare occasion when I do decide to speak up, I mutter and sound like an idiot. It always sounded so good when it was bouncing around inside my head. I don't know what synapse error occurs in moving the words from brain to tongue.

It's not only meetings. Even in casual gatherings, I am the one who always sits and listens. If there is a big discussion of current events going on, you can bet I'll be the one who just sits there. I may have lots of ideas, lots of opinions, lots to offer, but will rarely share them. I'm always afraid I'll get it wrong. It doesn't take too many "you don't quite have your facts right..." to make me keep my opinions to myself.

One on one, I'm sometimes a bit better, but not always. I'm usually bursting with feelings about various things, but am too reluctant to be made to feel stupid that actually share my views.

I'm really great about funny stuff. "Bev's just so funny...." Yep. I learned through long years of tension when growing up to attempt to relieve the strain by saying something funny. I don't mind having people think that I'm a comedienne. It's a great coverup for more serious things that might be festering inside. It give me something to say.

And I don't have to reveal how I'm really feeling.


(sorry this entry got posted late...the dog ate my rough draft)

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