Now if you throw a bunch of plastic ears on the stage I will  be forced to mock you.› Well as you may have guessed this email is about a  speech I gave on Saturday.› A few months ago an older gentleman at my Board  of Education asked me if I could give a speech.› Thinking that it probably  was something minor and my eagernest to please (or my overt stupidity) I  immediately said yes to the proposal.›THEN he gave me details.› I had  to give it in Japanese (did I ever mention I don't speak the language), it would  be at the concert hall (the most important building in my town), it had to be  between 15-20 mins long (don't even speak that long in English), and there would  be about 200 people there including the mayor (the Prime Minister's brother) my  bosses, my fellow teachers and students.› Gee what a great opportunity to  offend every level of my little town society.›  ››› So I set out to write the speech in English  and begged a friend of mine, Leisa, to translate it for me.› Today I would  like to publicly thank Leisa for bailing me out.› She's in the  audience.›  ››› Still once I got the translation via email  (wonderful technology) I still had to learn how to read some of the Japanese  words.› Some of them are a little difficult to say the  least.› One such word is "wakanarakatta".› Actually that was easier  than some of the other words.› So I read each sentence a dozen times and  read each page together a dozen more.› The speech was about the time when I  got lost on the wrong train, about another time I lost my cell phone (you all  know these stories) and some other observations.› I also wanted to show a  little bit of my sumo video so›I made arrangements for that. ››› As the big day was drawing near there were  still some concerns.› One was the fact that everytime I read my speech to  some Japanese people they corrected it, which was okay except for a couple times  when some later Japanese people corrected what some earlier people had  corrected.› Follow that? Who was correct?› Do they know their  language?› So there was a rehearsal that went over okay except before it I  went to convert my sumo video from my 8mm film to a regular video tape and the  film broke.› Luckily my friend Rafi had his video that I made for him way  back when still available.› I had to drive 2hrs there and back to get it  though.›  ››› I found out that I was going to give my  speech fourth after three other speeches and an award ceremony.› So I had  to sit back stage and sweat it out while not knowing anything anyone said for  2hrs.› I don't know why couldn't they just have me go first...oh  well.›› ››› So I stood up and walked to the podium  and›started.› The speech went over okay I suppose.› I did my best  to make sure I pronounced every word correctly.› I wasn't about to make any  blunders there.› Of course I messed up a few times...lost my  place›once and though I felt I›had turned red with embarrassment a  friend of mine said it wasn't noticeable.›› ››› The reward for me›doing this›was  a pen, a few coupons for things bought in my town, a›box of›lunch food  (sushi) and the appreciation of everyone who went.› People›continue to  say to me that my Japanese is wonderful....Japanese people lie very well.›  One funny observation is the fact that my Superintendent always›spoke  English to me before›the speech and the first time I saw him after the  speech he broke out in really fast Japanese.› I proceeded to give him my  "What in tarnation are you saying" look that I've perfected›in my 1 and  half years here and the reality that I indeed›don't understand too much  brought him back to earth.› He thus started with  English.›› ››› Looking back›I'm glad I did it but I'm  more›glad it's over.› ›