I was in the unfortunate position yesterday of having to listen to a speech. When was the last time you were at a good speech? For me, it was basically never. I’ve given two or three speeches in my life and I’ve got to tell you, even those were pretty awful. And I have an extremely high opinion of myself, especially when it comes to public speaking. My voice is akin to an earthquake, my words a … smaller earthquake.
But this speech was pretty lame even by conventional standards. For one thing, it was given by another 22-year-old, never a good sign. Aside from how poorly such speeches invariably work, there’s one gimmick that every Gen Y kid whips out: nostalgia. Now, yes. I know what you’re thinking. Everyone has been complaining about nostalgia (and way more eloquently: Dorothy Gambrell’s words are akin to an asteroid hitting a planet) since VH1 started running I Love The Last Seventeen Minutes or whatever back in like 2001. And all those Oregon Trail Facebook groups (I’m not even linking to them).
But it may have gotten worse! I have noticed, for example, that nostalgia no longer has to have anything to do with the conversation. I was at a party the other day and said something embarrassing. I don’t remember what, but here’s a re-enactment of how the conversation went, with a plausible faux pas inserted:
Girl at party: Oh, man, in high school I had really bad acne and split ends.
Zach: Jeez, so you must have been really unattractive!
Girl at party: (long, awkward pause)
Zach: Must… defuse… awkardness. Um… Fraggle Rock!
Bystander: OH MY GOD FRAGGLE ROCK!
Girl at party: Fraggle Rock was the best show ever! Remember (some inane detail from Fraggle Rock)?
I’ve never even seen Fraggle Rock. But I’ve been using this technique ever since I’ve been accidentally rude to strangers (i.e. my entire life). However, yesterday’s speaker pulled this same crap. Here’s an excerpt:
Speaker: We must rise higher, and succeed! The challenges of the future are more challenging than the challenges of the past! And I’m not talking about Salute Your Shorts.
That doesn’t make any goddamn sense. I didn’t even have cable growing up! I thought 60 Minutes was balls-to-the-wall entertainment when I was a kid, probably because the only other show I’d ever seen was McLaughlin Group. My nostalgia costs $300 per hour, courtesy of PBS’ kick-ass early-90s lineup. But that’s no excuse for talking about muppets all day. Not when there’s Carmen Sandiego to fondly remember! Remember Carmen Sandiego?