Recently, I was honoured to chair the reception party at a wedding here in Lagos. Everyone knows that wedding guests really do not give a hoot for speeches, much less the chairman’s speech. No-one wants to hear the chairman’s speech at any occasion. Every time I had attended a wedding reception, I wondered why the chairmen ever bothered. Now, here I was on the spot. Whatever it was, I decided I wasn’t going to give a speech. So, what did I do?
When called up and handed the microphone for the chairman’s speech, I announced that I knew no-one wanted to hear a speech and offered to tell a short story instead. I observed that this got people’s attention immediately and they quietened a bit. Then I told them this brief, engaging and hilarious story:
One evening last week, my wife and I were getting into bed. Well, the passion starts to heat up, and she eventually says “I don’t feel like it, I just want you to hold me.”
I said “WHAT??!! What was that?!”
So she says the words that every man on the planet dreads to hear, “You’re just not in touch with my emotional needs as a woman enough for me to satisfy your physical needs as a man.” She responded to my puzzled look by saying, “Can’t you just love me for who I am and not what I do for you in bed?”
Realizing that nothing was going to happen that night, I went to sleep.
The very next day I opted to take the day off of work to spend time with her. We went out to a nice lunch and then went shopping at a big, big unnamed department store. I walked around with her while she tried on several different very expensive outfits. She couldn’t decide which one to take so I told her we’d just buy them all. She wanted new shoes to compliment her new clothes, so I said lets get a pair for each outfit. We went onto the jewelry department where she picked out a pair of diamond earrings. Let me tell you, she was so excited.
She must have thought I was one wave short of a shipwreck. I started to think she was testing me because she asked for a tennis bracelet when she doesn’t even know how to play tennis. I think I threw her for a loop when I said, “That’s fine, honey.” She was almost nearing sexual satisfaction from all of the excitement. Smiling with excited anticipation she finally said, “I think this is all dear, let’s go to the cashier.”
I could hardly contain myself when I blurted out, “No honey, I don’t feel like it.”
Her face just went completely blank as her jaw dropped with a baffled WHAT?”
I then said “Honey! I just want you to HOLD this stuff for a while. You’re just not in touch with my financial needs as a man enough for me to satisfy your shopping needs as a woman.” And just when she had this look like she was going to kill me, I added, “Why can’t you just love me for who I am and not for the things I buy you?”
Everywhere in the reception hall, people laughed their hearts out and I got a good ovation. I thanked the guests, handed the mic back to the MC and went back to my seat. It was a short story. It was comedy. It was engaging. And it had a message. Weeks after that wedding, I was still receiving feedback on that story. I doubt that the guests will forget it. On the other hand, if I had delivered a speech…
I have always believed that we are a story-telling culture. Our people love stories. I have always enjoyed telling great stories – written or oral, and I intend to continue to explore how our love of stories can be deployed in a wide range of scenarios.