For Toastmasters

This is the banquet season. A former college admissions officer admitted to me that it was unnecessary for him to have anything home on the range from January till March. Sometimes he attended two dinners and a banquet in one evening.

Since dumping the farm surpluss abroad might dislocate world markets, there seems to be only one remaining disposition of the excess: the expanding frontiers of the American waistlands. The motto at banquets, dinners, luncheons, brunches, and potlucks is: Spread America First with Seconds. Hearty trenchermen aim to reverse the myth of the vanishing American.

A dedicated band of gastronauts fearlessly leads this attack on inner space. Automation has not yet reached the toastmaster. He must get up alone when the chops are down. He must be unfloppable. His jokes may be duds; he may forget the name of the speaker, and plant his elbow in his cottage cheese salad. But how does he respond? In just this situation a missile engineer made a quick sketch in his pocket memo and announced, “I’ve got the picture now. It’s called, ‘The missileman on his pad—after launch.’ ”

When you are asked to serve as master of ceremonies for the Men’s Fellowship banquet, remember that you stand in a long tradition. Toastmaster-General M. C. Megabohr tells us, in an intriguing study of “The Emcee Beecee,” that Samson’s riddles reveal an emcee craft that was centuries old when the Israelite judge first attended a Philistine banquet. Who could count the dinners that have been seasoned with the wit of Solomon’s aphorisms?

If you lack Solomon’s wisdom and Samson’s wit, don’t despair. Announce seconds on pie à la mode. If all else fails, turn to paper-folding. Have the guests make missiles from the banquet programs. ...

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