I sponsored a Kiddush in the shul this past Shabbos, and I got up to say a few words. Since I, and most of the members in the congregation actually despise when anybody interrupts our munching and schmoozing with a speech, I tried to punch it up with a few choice clichés, including the opening line “unaccustomed, as I am, to public speaking,” which is usually funny because the person uttering it is almost always known to be an unstoppable blabbermouth who needs to be forcibly yanked from the podium. Except in my case it was funny because I NEVER get up to speak. Period.
Still, I said my piece, and afterwards, quite a few people came over to tell me how much they enjoyed what I had to say. And one fellow in particular said, “I know you said you’re not accustomed to speaking in public, but you obviously speak frequently.”
“Are you sure?”
“Pretty sure. I never give speeches.”
“But you sounded like someone who gets up and speaks all the time. It was a very well put-together speech. Did you prepare it in advance?”
And the answer was no, I didn’t. And I almost never speak publicly. I hate speaking. I hate bothering other people when they’re trying to socialize. I absolutely have zero confidence than anyone would want to hear anything I have to say about any subject.
I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve given a speech:
- My son Moe’s bris. But that was really just introducing Rabbi T, who’d flown to NY from Milwaukee.
- My son Curly’s bris. Apparently I skipped my son Larry’s bris.
- My father’s 80th birthday party. I did speak, but actually I got up to sing him “Those Were the Days, My Friend,” a song that he taught me when I was two.
- My father’s funeral. Again, less of a speech and more of an incoherent rambling sob-fest.
- This Kiddush.
And I didn’t exactly write a speech or prepare anything, I just went over a few salient points in my mind during the services prior to the Kiddush (oh, and I also did the Haftorah and the Mussaf service).
Of course, it was after the discussion with this fellow, and after another with Fudge, that I realized how unusual the whole circumstance was for me. It was only then that I realized what I had done.
I had treated the whole thing as a blog post. I did what I typically do before writing a post. I mulled it over in my head. I tried to boil it down to a few points. I envisioned a certain flow to it. And then I came back to it later and thought about it again. And the parts that I still remembered were deemed good and included. And then I delivered it.
It’s pretty clear to me that I would not have been able to do that prior to starting this blog. Over the course of 700-odd posts I may have actually learned how to organize my thoughts. Accustomed, as I am, to public blogging.