Late Sunday night, I received an email pleading for speakers at a wine-tasting breast cancer fund raiser in three days. As "desperately" was bold, italicized, underlined, and fully capitalized, I knew the situation must be grim. Being the nice person that I am, I replied that I would "happily blab publicly about frankenboob", assuming I could spend the day up north and they could cover the flights.
No response came on Monday, so I went to bed confident that I had successfully avoided a public speaking engagement. Alas, it was not meant to be, as Tuesday morning brought not one but three emails. The first thanked me profusely for volunteering. The second said that they weren't sure if they could cover the cost and they'd let me know by Wednesday morning. The third implied that someone thought this through a little further and realized that booking flights the day of was a bad idea.
Well, crap. It was time to exert effort, starting with asking my manager if I could spend the day at headquarters. He readily agreed, and even pointed out that I could easily come up with a business reason for the trip, eliminating all remaining obstacles.
It is now Wednesday, I have less than four hours before my adoring public shuns me, and I have no idea what to say. I thought reading through past posts might inspire me, but clearly that just turned into an exciting new way to procrastinate. Bad me!
I tried to work. I really did. But unless "work" is the new hipster word for "fretting," I was not a bastion of productivity. With about forty minutes before my shameful public debut, I decided to head over. Due to my awe-inspiring ability to get magnificently lost in the process of finding my way to a building across the street, I made it with a mere twenty-seven seconds to spare. A personal best!
The person I had been conversing with via email was nowhere to be found, but the other organizers were happy to provide me with two pink ribbon stickers and an empty glass for wine tasting. The extra sticker informed the masses that I was a victim of cancerous masses. The empty glass informed the wine pourers that I was out of wine.
I sampled the wine over and over, right up until it was time to talk. The other speaker went first, at my insistence, and told the crowd how important mammograms are. Her precancerous lump was found during a routine screening, and since it was found so early, she merely needed some surgery and radiation. I refrained from calling her a lucky bastard as she continued stressing regular checkups, a mild feat considering my earlier wine tasting regiment.
Since I was already out of people to speak before me, it was my turn. I started from the beginning, with my mom getting diagnosed while I was in college and her suggesting that the doctor examine my boob eight years later, as she was slightly less qualified. I followed with a brief description of all the things that went wrong, right up to my current state. I made sure to mention that silicone implants are amazingly fun to play with, and anyone with the opportunity to examine an unimplanted pair should not pass it up.
The previous speaker had a message. I needed a message to close with. Perhaps I should have thought about that earlier? Luckily, the wine told me what to say. "The past two years have really sucked. A lot. But you know what would have sucked worse? Being dead." Speaking done.
Afterwards, people kept thanking me for my speech. I received all sorts of compliments on bravery, inspiration, triumph, and other embarrassing things, not to mention countless hugs. The wine rush wore off and I reverted to my normal awkward self, leaving me to wriggle around under their good intentions.
I quickly discovered that once my audience was reduced to one or two individuals, I had no trouble recounting tales of boobular heroism. Of course, soon after that realization it was time for carriage to whisk me away to the aeroport.