The Perks of Public Speaking
by Adam Mott
On the night of my second Japanese bonnenkai, a man who sits just twenty feet away from my office desk finally ingested enough liquid courage to approach me for the very first time. He asked if I would give a speech for a lecture series being held in Misawa City. I tentatively agreed and we exchanged contact information. We then proceeded to forget about our arrangement in a night of complete drunken debauchery. Or so I had hoped.
I received a call the following week to set up the theme and date of my speech. The particulars: I was to introduce American culture, focusing on my hometown, Seattle. I would be speaking in both Japanese and English and, for my troubles, I’d be awarded a nice $100 paycheck. After enquiring about the target audience, the man informed me I would be speaking to men and women of all ages. Great. A fun challenge.
Fortunately, I was going back to America to visit, so I took a variety of pictures to use in the presentation. I set about writing a script and making a PowerPoint. During my preparation, however, I was getting the feeling that my speech was sounding more like a travel agent’s sales pitch than a cultural representation of the US. I needed something else. Something interesting. Something…American. Football. Perfect! I could use video clips to teach the basics of the game and, through that, an important part of American culture.
The day of the speech came. I suited up and made sure I was early to get everything set up. The audience filed in, all jiichans and baachans, quite possibly the worst demographic for my football talk. Despite thinking to myself, “Dammitdammitdammitdammitdammit!”, I manned up and attempted to make it all work.
I don’t remember much of the actual speech; it’s clouded in a hazy fog of nervous sweat and stammering Japanese. But somehow, I got through it, finished the Q&A section, and was home free, ready to never show my face in that part of town again.
Next week I got the call: The organizer of the lecture had a present for me. After telling him where I was, he met me at the genkan of my junior high school. He handed me a curiously wrapped package, which I immediately started to open. Before he could tell me I shouldn’t open it there, I was already holding a pink, thin, plastic tube.
I gave the man a puzzled look.
He reminded me that I had told him in a previous conversation that I had a girlfriend in Tokyo. He told me that I could use this when I was “lonely”. At that moment, I realized I was holding a prosthetic vagina.
I looked around the hallway nervously, thankful that it was empty and that no one else had seen my new gift. “I’m sorry if it’s too small,” he continued, “I couldn’t find one labeled `American size.’”
The artificial vagina still sits in my house to this day in the bag he gave it to me in. I have not used it out of feelings of both horror and disgust. With my departure in summer, it might be looking for a new home. Anyone interested?