I’d rather beat myself with sticks

Image from Wikipedia

You know what’s a surefire way to feel like a freakishly awkward, hideous, pointy-haired excuse of a human being?

Record yourself giving an anniversary toast on video.

Try it. I dare you.

John and I spent THREE HOURS last night trying to do just this. And this is how I learned for the first time how freakish my eyes look – all beady and black and apparently cross-eyed – when I’m sitting and listening, trying my damnedest to look pretty and supportive. The only thing worse are my eyes when I’m actually talking, all flared open in feigned excitement. Ugh. Uggghhhhh. <shudder>

It is John’s parents 40th anniversary on Sunday,* which means unfortunately we won’t be at their party (instead we’ll be just north of the Arctic Circle, sitting in a sauna beating ourselves with birch branches). In true John-family-organizing-things fashion, we were told Sunday night (that’s two days before we leave the country) by his sister that that is no excuse for not giving a toast – she wants us to film a toast so they can watch all of our awkwardness displayed on a giant projector screen.

Now that might be adequate warning for a normal person, but John and I are both equally terrible at this kind of thing. We can’t speak about anything emotionally meaningful in front of anyone but each other, and even then it’s only semi-annually. And if we must – as we did at our wedding – it must be brief and point form, at most 30 seconds.

So we tackled this like any nerd would – we wrote out a script in a Google doc and then set-up two laptops, one to record us and the other to display the text.

Mistake number one: we didn’t have anything to drink.
Mistake number two: looking slightly off-camera to read text is super creepy. You’d think we’d have learned this lesson already from Michele Bachmann.
Mistake number three: not being born with the natural ability to speak off-the-cuff in a heartfelt way. We are not emotionally expressive people in real-life, so we’re not suddenly going to whip up a bunch of sap on video when we’re not even there to defend ourselves afterwards!

After a slight temper tantrum (by me obviously) and a whole lot of hilarious out-take footage, we got a couple of versions that only made us cringe to the point of a dull pain at the bottom of our gut, rather than full-on body convulsions of cringy-ness. We might try it again tonight if we find the self-esteem and the time.

But first we have to drop off Cassie, something I’m still pretending isn’t happening. Maybe she could just fit in my carry-on? Please?

*Amazing right? I truly hope I can absorb some of their… happiness? willingness to work at it? luck? magic dust? Whatever it is that makes a marriage tick for 40 years.

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Posted on August 9, 2011, in Life and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. wow that sounds like hell! haa. I hate seeing myself on camera. ack! maybe you could make a slideshow of pictures of them, and just do a voice-over! probably no time for that.

    I’m sure they will love whatever you send. and Cassie will be ok! so excited for you and this trip!!

  2. say that last line you said! I hate seeing myself on camera, too (and my recorded voice is an impossible cross between a 5-year-old and a lifelong smoker). I would also suggest printing the script and reading it on camera – if you’re looking away, they know you’re reading it anyway, and it’s not terribly weird to read a speech/toast.

    ORRRR! you could just compile some pictures of them and make a slideshow set to some cheesy song everyone loves and enter some text at the end (like that last line you said!) where you commend them on their long marriage and express a desire to emulate their relationship (whether you mean that or not)

    also, booze.

    Good luck!

  3. OH, GOD. That sounds like my worst nightmare, too. The beau turns into a terrified piece of wood in front of a camera, and all of my attempts to act “natural” and let loose my inner charm turn out out more like a braying, demented horse. And I never realized my face was THAT ugly.

    Also, this;
    “We can’t speak about anything emotionally meaningful in front of anyone but each other, and even then it’s only semi-annually. And if we must – as we did at our wedding – it must be brief and point form, at most 30 seconds.”

    • Yeah, the worst part was realizing that what I thought might be my “inner charm” is so utterly creepy looking. Actually much like a braying, demented horse now that you mention it.

  4. I’m SO horrible at being filmed, or recorded in any way. I had to do a date-rape awareness ad for the campus rape crisis center I volunteered with once, and I was so horrid they couldn’t even use me.

    I had the experience last year of realizing that I’m way not as adorable as I think I am. And both Carson and i crashed to earth about our photogenic-ness after the wedding.

  5. Do it with cards!! Write the toast on cards and flash them in front of the screen — then overlay some music and clink your glasses at the end :) Clink clink! Done!

    Also, I am supremely jealous of your vacation!

    • Zan, you are a genius.

      Also, I would be too terrified to do this. For real. Just the thought of doing it makes me nervous.

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