I survived my speech.
I got through my 10 minutes at Interesting Vancouver, the self-professed multi-disciplinary conference with no singular theme, and even received some applause.
I wouldn't have been close, in my mind, without my Carol-Ann and our good buddy Bif Naked. (Shameless name drop.) I was freaked all day about it, and Carol-Ann busted her butt to try to keep me calm. At one point, she said, "If you get in trouble, just signal to me and I'll come up there with you." Now, Carol-Ann hates being singled out. She hates to be front and centre. She didn't sign up for this conference. She would have rescued me, though. That's part of why she's freakin' adorable.
We got to the event, which was at the Museum of Vancouver, and I was leading off the second half of speakers after intermission. Sure enough, the first half of speakers rocked it. Lots of prep time spent. Guys with slides. Guys with dance moves. One of them, I swear, had the Pips. (Gladys Knight's back-up singers...oh, I'm old.)
I had a bunch of bullet points on one scrap of paper. I had run over the first few sentences in my mind a few times, but I hadn't gotten anywhere close to a full run through. I had no idea what 10 minutes felt like.
I told Carol-Ann and Bif, "I'm so outclassed."
Bif gave me "Steve," and then a long pause, which is something she picked up from Carol-Ann and is basically short-hand for "concentrate on what I'm about to say to you, you big, friggin' goofball or I'm going to sock you one."
Then she continued.
"You're talking about cancer," she continued. "That's real. You say 'cancer,' and the room will go silent.' They'll be focussed on your every word."
So it came my turn. I'm limped up there, trusty Evander (The Cane) by my side, and I started with, "Hey, I didn't fall down...first step complete."
Out from the crowd came a couple of polite laughs.
Then I gave them, in my best radio voice: "Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, childen of all ages...I'm Steve Ewen, and I'm very excited to be here."
Pronounced pause for effect.
"I'm excited to be here," I continued, "because I've always wanted to stand in front of a group of people and say, "Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, children of all ages. Next, off my bucket list, is hopping into a cab, pointing at a passing vehicle and saying, 'Quick, follow that car.'"
Pockets of laughter.
"I'm also excited to be here because I was diagnosed with cancer a year ago and this is my first chance to try to give back to all the people who were so supportive of my wife and I."
There were a few seconds of silence while people processed what I said, and then a more passionate round of applause.
Bif was right. As soon as the word, "cancer," came up, people dialled right in.
They were great. They laughed at all the right spots. They chortled at, "Hey, is that a tumour in my T-2 or are you just happy to see me?" They let me get emotional about Carol-Ann. At one point, I blurted out, "You guys are great...I'm taking you all home with me."
I was sore and tired, so we bolted right after and missed the last bunch of speakers.
So, basically, there's a chance I might do another speech sometime. The odds of telling too many of you beforehand, though, still aren't good.