Did I Just Say That Out Loud?

| 4/8/2011 8:49:09 AM

There was a great “30 Rock” episode a few years ago in which Tina Fey’s boss Jack Donaghy (played by Alec Baldwin) is getting ready to speak to a group of his “110% Business” buddies. He clips on a microphone and then goes in to the washroom where he proceeds to give himself a little pre-speech warm up, talking to himself out loud and saying things like “You’re a winner, you’re number one, everyone else is a loser…” and that sort of thing.

Well of course Tina Fey is in the audience and realizes that Jack has forgotten that his microphone is on and everyone in the audience is listening. It’s pretty damn funny; especially knowing that no one could be that stupid, right?

A few weeks ago I did the keynote speech at the Queen’s Commerce and Engineering Environmental Conference and I realized as soon as I arrived that all of the students were way better dressed than I was. In fact, in comparison to the fashionable young adults in the audience, I kind of felt like a homeless guy who had just walked in on a social function. I had purchased my shirt, which is a number of years old, at Giant Tiger, a discount chain store in this part of Ontario. No it wasn’t made in Canada, it was made in Bangladesh and probably cost me about $7. My pants were definitely from Value Village (a secondhand store) and my tie was one that I had grabbed from a box of my dad’s 1950’s era ties. My own collection of ties is from the days in the 70’s and 80’s (which is the last time I regularly wore suits) are so they are all really dated. I figured that if I wore a tie from the 1950s I should just about be in style, since fashion has a habit of repeating itself. It’s like how Colin Firth in the movie “A Single Man” which is set in the 1960s looks like a hugely stylish hipster from today.


My shoes would make a vegan happy, since they are made of completely 100% man-made materials. I can’t even remember where I got them but they are probably secondhand as well.

So about 10 minutes before my talk I went in to the washroom and was trying to retie my tie since I’m pretty rusty at it. I was staring at myself in the mirror, realizing just how “recycled” I looked and in my mind I said “Well, that’s as good as it’s gonna get.” I then realized that I hadn’t in fact used my “inside my head voice” but rather I had used my real voice … you know, the one anyone around you can hear. At that point a toilet flushed and I realized that there was in fact another person in the washroom with me who had probably heard me talking to myself. At that point I quickly vacated the washroom before I could be identified as the crazy keynote speaker who talks to himself. If muttering out loud to yourself isn’t the first sign of impending homelessness I don’t know what is.

The good thing was that as I walked briskly away from the washroom I couldn’t help but laugh really hard. There’s no better way to get loosened up before a talk than by making a fool of yourself.

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