In exactly three hours from now, I will be up on a stage giving a speech to a bunch of strangers in a gay bar.
The last time I gave a prepared speech was Grade 5, when a prize-winning speech I wrote about "The Future" gained critical acclaim on the Royal Canadian Legion circuit.
Since then, my public speaking career has been limited to impromptu, and unpaid, appearances at Christmas and birthday parties.
Anyway, tonight I’ll be speaking at the launch party for Vancouver’s first gay and lesbian triathlon club, which was formed by a bunch of guys from my swim team a few months ago.
I’m not really sure why they asked me to give a speech at the launch party, especially considering a) I’m not gay, and b) I’m not much of a triathlete. I’m guessing that no one else wanted to do it. Plus I have this weird reputation for being outgoing and funny. Which is strange because that’s not how I see myself. I can be very shy and anti-social at times.
But I agreed to give a speech because a) I secretly like public speaking, and b) I believe in the cause (spreading the fitness gospel to gay men). I’ve cut and pasted my speech below, in case you’re interested.
Thank you for that introduction, Paul. Hi everyone!
For those of you who don’t know me, I’ve been swimming with English Bay for five years, and I’ve been involved in triathlon for about three years.
Paul wanted someone to give a short speech on "why you should do a triathlon." Unfortunately, Simon Whitfield wasn’t available tonight so you’re stuck with me.
Luckily for you, I’m better at public speaking than triathlon, which isn’t really saying much. Anyway, my goal tonight is to convince every person in this bar to race in at least one triathlon this year.
So I thought about how I could do that, and I decided to create a Top 10 list of reasons to do a triathlon. But I could only think of nine things:
9. Eye candy: You will be surrounded by half-naked guys and girls all day. Who knows? You might pick up something besides a medal.
8. Fame and glory: If you are the only person in your age group, you will get a guaranteed first place and lifetime bragging rights. Warning: when you go to the office on Monday, your co-workers will start asking you if you’re training for the Olympics.
7. Personal satisfaction: There's no greater feeling than setting a goal and meeting it. Triathlons bring meaning and purpose to those endless hours of training. Pick a race at the beginning and end of the season and compare your times. It's all about control, achievement and mastery.
6. Distraction: Do you hate your job? Is your personal life going to hell? Triathlon is a great way to avoid thinking about everything that's bothering you.
5. Exotic travel: Triathlon is also a great excuse to travel to exciting destinations such as Salmon Arm, Duncan and Saskatoon.
4. Intimate encounters: How well do you really know your teammates? Spend a weekend with some of them and you might be surprised at what you learn. I have slept with about half the guys on the swim team and I know from personal experience who snores like Darth Vader, who wears tighty whities and who has a small bladder.
3. Free food: Don’t think of them as aid stations, think of them as buffet tables! All the Power Bars and mushy bananas you can eat. Sometimes there are banquets afterwards with lavish spreads of ham sandwiches, chocolate chip cookies and pickles.
2. Masochism: Because you love pain and want to swim, bike and run so hard it hurts.
1. Anything goes: This is the best part about triathlon. Anything goes! You don't have to qualify. You don't even have to swim freestyle. If you're tired, you can flip over onto your back or swim breaststroke. Mountain bike, commuter bike, road bike. It doesn’t matter. You can crawl if you don’t feel like running. There are all shapes and sizes and ages. You won't be the slowest person there, but if you are, you will get a standing ovation as you cross the finish line. So why not try something new this year? Who knows? You might love it as much as I do!