The cheapest legal high you can get

(c) Alex Own

Way back in 2000, I graduated from Valdez Community College, affiliated to the University of Alaska. I was asked to give the graduation speech and I said no. I said no because I stammer. I don’t do it all the time and can go for weeks without incident but then come the days when I can’t say my own name. And as I can’t predict when these days will fall, I wasn’t about to get up on stage in front of 600 people …just in case.

The one thing I fear more than public humiliation is that feeling of regret. My e-mail signature contains the quote from Syndey Harris – Regret for the things we did can be tempered by time; it is regret for the things we did not do that is inconsolable. So I changed my mind and gave that speech. The audience laughed and cried on cue. And I was hooked. Being able to engage with so many people at the one time was incredible. The adrenalin. The rush. The sense of accomplishment.

Back in 2008, when having lunch one day with GM, and talking about how there are so few opportunities for people to experience this high in Budapest, we began to speculate aloud and the result: The Gift of the Gab. The first series was a learning curve. I ended up funding it as we didn’t draw enough people to make it financially viable. By the time the final came around though, we had quite a following. But getting speakers was a problem. GM moved on and I wasn’t up for doing it on my own. It’s a lot of work. Then at various stages, others talked of doing something similar and I discovered in me a reluctance to see my baby exploited for profit. Quite an irrational thought in this day and age, I will admit. So I agreed to do it again – for charity.

The 2012 GOTG season began last September and has gone from strength to strength. People want to be on stage. People who competed this year and didn’t qualify want to try again next year. People came out and supported the cause, glad to be able to give a little, knowing that it would help a lot. The support was amazing. To those of you who are silently tempted to get on stage next year – but are still questioning your sanity, I say take the chance. Don’t regret not doing it. We’re not putting hearts in babies. No-one is going to die. The worst that can happen is that you bomb but at least you tried. The best that can happen is that it opens up a whole new world for you – and you get to experience, first-hand, the cheapest legal high you can get.

2 replies
  1. Tim Child
    Tim Child says:

    It was great to see the art of speaking without politics or social soap boxes being perfected in an international setting. To be left laughing so my sides hurt, by a Czech guy explaining the pitfalls of internet dating an 82 years old (who he thought was born in 1982), will be an abiding memory. As for our Scottish friend revealing what was under the kilt; those who were not there will regret the opportunity to discover the truth along last. The best fun in ages with my clothes on. Well done Mary.

  2. Bea Bincze
    Bea Bincze says:

    Mary, thanks for organizing!
    This serie of the GOTG was super, and the final capped it all.
    I was hooked in January, when I made my first community speech, and the great audience made me realize, that I want to be on the stage again. But I thought about it just a bit too long, and February slots have been already filled.
    But it was for the best, as now I have enough time till the September GOTG to either prepare the “perfect” speech”, or go to Cork and kiss the Blarney Stone 🙂


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