Recently I competed in a Toastmasters Tall Tale contest, which was painful and frightening until it was over, and then it was ok. I didn’t make any huge mistakes (I forgot I think 3 lines) but I think my voice wasn’t shaky, and I felt tolerable on center stage.
Keep in mind, this isn’t a big stage. The competition was one level up from the club (where I know everyone, all the people are friendly, and I have gone from being scared to feeling somewhat comfortable there). It was a new crowd, and a bigger stage than I am used to, so those combined to make me very nervous. But I am happy that I avoided any big gaffes, and I got third place (out of five). I think two mistakes I made were bad eye contact (quite a few more folks than I am accustomed to! my eyes darted around a bit too much) and I needed to be louder. For those in the back of the room I was a bit hard to hear.
I think, if you happen to be a fellow toastmaster, it was good for me. The new level of nervousness, and feeling like I needed to up my game, both helped push me. I think I had much more and better movement in this speech than any other I have had yet (though that is helped by the fact that I literally dance during the course of the speech). I will also proudly report I was the only one who danced during the competition. Anywho, without further delay, my tall tale, “Disturbing Grandpa’s Nap.”
Grandpa was napping on the La-Z-Boy, channel changer somehow locked in his hand, the TV had some boring baseball game on … and I was looking out the window wondering if I’d gone crazy.
I figured I should get a second opinion so I walked to another window, ah!, sure enough, same view.
The sky was FULL of ALIEN SPACE SHIPS!
This was a little disconcerting.
But, is it worth waking grandpa up? He does love to nap.
I decided to go for it.
“GRANDPA! Oh sorry … you were asleep?” I figured I should tell a fib, because if I told the truth, he’d probably think I was fibbing.
“Grandpa, a neighbor was out … chopping down a tree and … he cut off his arm! We should go help?”
Grandpa gave a big, looooong sigh … And, a few minutes later, we were at the front door.
I opened the door, “oh look, space ships.” Grandpa sighed again, but this time, he seemed almost annoyed. He crossed his arms, shook his head, and then he walked away.
I was surprised, but then I thought, OF COURSE!, grandma and grandpa must own guns! He’s going to come back, two shotguns in hand, a bandolier on, and we’re gonna go fight some aliens!!
Instead, he came back with two bags of sugar, one granulated, one brown, he looked at them and then … handed me one of them, and a spoon, and then we headed out the front door.
We were IMMEDIATELY surrounded by aliens. They were all different shapes, sizes, colors, smells … even. I thought, ‘shouldn’t I be afraid? Shouldn’t I be worried I’m about to die?’ But I looked over at grandpa and he was cool as could be. Digging his spoon into the sugar, having himself a little snack. And I thought, ‘you know, if I AM going to die today, I might as well die with my sweet tooth satisfied, so I started doing the same thing.’
Soon we were in a big group of aliens, they had all gathered in one spot, and grandpa turned to me and said, “let’s get them on our side” so we started handing out spoonfuls of sugar. Claws, tentacles, robotic-like limbs, even MENTAL POWERS reached out and took the sugar! I don’t know how to read alien expressions, but I’m pretty sure they enjoyed it.
Distracted by being such good ambassadors for Earth I didn’t realize we had entered the CENTER of the circle. In front of us were a few aliens who looked FANTASTIC. Their outfits were amazing. One of them would make Elton John look like a nobody, another David Bowie like just some guy going to the grocery store. Their outfits … were phenomenal.
One of them JUMPS in the middle of the circle and starts FLAILING around, at the same time, music starts playing from … I don’t even know where!
I thought, ‘aha, these are the ones who are gonna kill us.’
But then that one jumps out and another one jumps in and he starts moving around like a MANIAC!
That’s when it hit me – I’m not about to die, I’m part of an INTERGALACTIC DANCE OFF!
This … was a big moment for me. I knew I needed my BEST dance moves. I stepped back, and I watched, and I waited. Finally, I jumped in!
First, I hit them with the razzmatazz – that’s where I do jazz hands, and randomly karate kick. Then, the string knees … which is where I have strings … attached to my knees. A dash … of the sassy robot. And finally, the Bambi, where I walk like a newborn deer … except, to a rhythm.
I felt PRETTY GOOD about my showing. But the music stopped. An alien stepped forward and said, “ALAALALUAIHIUH!” … “Could you repeat that?” I asked.
He came closer, he reached his hand out, he stuck his hand into my chest AND GRABBED MY HEART! Suddenly … I could understand him.
“YOUR DANCE MOVES STINK! … But … we found them funny. EARTH! … Has … Been … Spared.”
He pulled his hand back and a WILD cacophony of noises sprang up all around me … I’m pretty sure they were laughing. Then, they all did an about face and walked back to their space ships.
Grandpa and I were left standing there. Saviors of the Earth, I might add. Two bags of sugar, now empty, two spoons, covered in some … other-wordly goop. And I heard grandpa sigh. I figured he was thinking about how upset grandma was gonna be – no sugar in the house?!, dirty spoons!? …
But I looked over at him, and he looked up … And suddenly I could read his thoughts … He was thinking, ‘can I get back to my nap now?’