Over the years, my presence at the Toastmasters' high table in District 11 has been an ongoing source of amusement for the crowd. Believe me, it's not where I belong, since I have this magnet for odd things to happen to me.
But my husband continues to get himself elected to leadership positions that land his table card up there, and protocol says his guest is seated at his side. The entire set-up reeks of a king at his banquet: everyone lined up on a pedestal, eating where all the folks in attendance can watch.
There was the time I got the giggles over an inside joke I don't dare detail in public, and couldn't quit laughing. We're talking laughter that bordered on snorting. And since I was the only one up there shaking from head to toe and all but pounding on the table in my hilarity ... well, you had to notice. The year my husband waxed romantic about his love for me during his district governor farewell message left me bawling, with nowhere to wipe the excess snot except on the table linen. (Note to self: Don't wear a strapless dress to these events again.) The next year, I cheerfully struck up a conversation with the lady next to me, critiquing each of the speakers in the contest. Turns out, she was one of the judges scattered around the room.
But this year, I outdid myself. I came within a whisper of setting the carpet on fire during the speech contest.
Proper Toastmaster dinner behavior
It was an innocent mistake. The gal next to me and I were both leaning against the table to watch the speech contestants. We forgot we were on a platform. And just like that, we pushed the end leg into outer space, and the table tipped forward, complete with its plates, coffee pot and burning candles. My partner in crime reacted a bit swifter and managed to catch the edge and save the crash.
Only the surprise of the moment startled one word out of her. It was a name with two syllables. It was not a word Toastmasters has sanctified in its unwritten handbook of acceptable words you should use in public. And she didn't exactly whisper it.
So anyone in the audience who missed the little action drama on the stage had a second chance to whip their heads in the direction of our corner of dignitaries. One of the members quietly walked up, helped us scoot the table back to safe territory ... and blew out the candles.
But you know the saddest part? They STILL haven't kicked me off the platform. If that didn't do it, I'm not sure I have the guts to put on a performance that will.