Memories Of A Really Bad Student Council President (Part Two)

On the evening of May 21st, 1992, the day before the student body of Delta Secondary School voted to fill all the vacancies of the Student Council, I was at home working feverishly on my speech.  Before the vote, all the candidates had to deliver a speech of some kind to all the students in attendance in Delta’s auditorium.  There would be 13 speeches that day, the last 3 reserved for the Presidential nominees.  I would be the first to make my case to the student body.
While I was putting together my speech, I thought about all the good things that happened to me at Delta:  Reading the morning announcements on DRBS (Delta’s Radio Broadcasting System); writing for the school’s newspaper, OMNIA, and its supplementary newsletter, Om-Lette; playing Alto Sax in Delta’s Concert and Jazz Bands; and winning the inaugural Airhead competition.  (While wearing a walkman you sing to the crowd without them hearing the music you’re playing through your earphones.) 
Then, I thought about my views on specific issues that affected the student body:  the no-hat rule (this was instituted so that the faculty would be able to crack down quicker on unwanted visitors (troublemakers) who weren’t aware of this policy); school dances; smoking; and extracurricular activities.  I really tried to sell myself through my words.  Little did I know how effective those words would be.
In the end, I had filled 4 sides of lined paper.  (The writing was double-spaced so I wouldn’t lose my place).  I went to bed ready to win an election.  You know what they say:  be careful what you wish for…
I woke up that morning extremely excited.  I went over my speech a couple of times, had some breakfast, put on some nice clothes (I believe I wore dark dress pants, a white dress shirt and a red tie.), and went off to Delta. 
The assembly was scheduled for 9 a.m. in the morning.  All the candidates had to be there ahead of time to get last-minute instructions and to determine the order of speakers.  After the morning announcements, the student body filed in awaiting what we all had in store for them.  I noticed a few of my friends in the crowd who gave me a shout-out.  I was nervous as hell.
Mr. Simpson, the constantly fretting Homer Simpson-esque history teacher, introduced all the candidates.  Many jobs were up for grabs that morning:  President, Vice-President (2 positions), Treasurer, Secretary (2 Positions) and there might have been a few Grade Rep positions open, as well.  Some positions were already filled by acclamation because there was no competition for those gigs.  Everything else had to be voted on.
Many of the speeches were brief and forgettable with one exception.  Andie Gallagher was the current Student Council President who was running for Vice President, a position, I believe, she had already held before.  (There were no rules against this, so she was eligible to run again.)  I wasn’t really crazy about her tenure and thought that I could easily do a better job.  (How wrong and foolish and arrogrant that belief turned out to be.)  But she was very personable and for a brief period, I even had a little crush on her.  She was kinda cute.
At one point during her speech she misspoke.  It was a very innocent moment.  She was trying to say something and it came out a curse word.  (I’m racking my brain now trying to remember what she was trying to say and what she actually said before correcting herself.  Was she trying to say "ship" when she had an unfortunate slip of the tongue?  But after thinking about it some more, I realized she didn’t say that.  Was she trying to say "pushy" when she misspoke or was it something less unintentionally provocative?  I wish I could remember because it would make this part of the story funnier.)  Either way, it provoked genuine laughs from the increasingly bored audience.  When she finished she had an embarrassed smile on her face as she walked back to her seat on stage.  (She didn’t win, by the way.)
After 10 speakers, it was time to hear from the Student Council Presidential nominees and I was up first.  I received a nice response as I walked to the podium.  Little did anyone know, my legs were literally shaking when I got up there to speak.  (Thankfully, no one but myself could see this.)  This was the nerviest thing I had ever done.  Running to lead a big important student organization?  What was I thinking?  I was out of my mind.  I had absolutely no experience running anything.  I was barely functional as a person.  But I never hesitated as I spoke.
During the speech, I made my case to the student body.  "Over the years at Delta, I’ve contributed not only academically but socially with various clubs and organizations…" I said.  I mentioned DRBS, OMNIA, the school bands and other accomplishments. 
Then, I went into my views on school policies.  Publicly, I stated that the no-hat rule should be followed.  Privately, I hated it.  I still don’t understand why it’s so terrible to wear a ballcap while learning.  It never affected my marks one iota.  And besides, do all visiting troublemakers wear ballcaps?  Surely, some of them are more astute than that, even today.
"On smoking, I feel that if you want to smoke, please either do it at home or in a permitted smoking area because next year, there may not be a smoking area."  At the time there was talk of disallowing underage teenage smokers from having a special place to get their nico fix.  I’ve always detested cigarettes because of the stench (and the fact they make me cough like crazy) and quite honestly, removing the few smoking areas that existed at the time was a good idea.  It’s a place of learning, not a dorm room.  (I’m such a nerd.)
I wanted school dances to feature more balanced music so that there would be something for everyone.  (As a side note, when I ran for Grade 9 Rep in 1989, one of the off-the-cuff ideas I had was to have the dances take place during the afternoon rather than at night.  When I attended Memorial School all our school dances took place in the afternoon.  This was probably because of our ages, more than anything else.) 
I promised better lunchtime activities for the students, like Lunch Time Saturday Night Live programs, more sporting events provided by the Boys Athletic Council (B.A.C.) and Girls Athletic Council (G.A.C.), more appearances by my friends’ rock bands, Slayed Angel and The Something Changes.
At one point, I slipped into George Herbert Walker Bush which got a laugh (and was unscripted).  Someone in the crowd had said something so it just happened. 
After what seemed an eternity to me, I wrapped up:  "So you can see, I am prepared to take Delta by storm and make the 1992/93 school year a memorable one.  So when you vote today, remember these quoted words about myself from that old philosopher, Stuart Smiley: ‘I’m good enough, I’m smart enough and doggone it, people like me!  VOTE FOR DENNIS EARL.  Thank you."
Another big laugh and an enthusiastic response.  As I walked back to my seat, I was beaming and gesturing to my friends who really enjoyed my speech.  Then, I sat down.  I did all I could to win this election.  But it would be the opening line from the very next speaker that sealed the deal.  "Now I’m not going to tell any stupid jokes," he began as a smattering of boos could be heard.  I smiled and laughed.  I was too excited to give a damn.  After he finished, the last speaker, Erin (who took dancing lessons from my mom and who I, personally, had known for years), got up and did her thing.  When it was over, I made a prediction.  Either I would win or Erin would win. 
When the assembly ended we all walked back to our classes and voted.  Naturally, I voted for myself.  Later, when I was walking down the hallway, some guy I never met before came up to me and said that he voted for me (as did the majority of his classmates).  I couldn’t help but smile and be touched by that.  That silly goddamn speech seemed to work.
I was absolutely flying that morning.  But things would get even crazier during the afternoon.
Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Sunday, May 21, 2006
3:27 p.m.
Published in: on May 21, 2006 at 3:47 pm  Leave a Comment  

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