Wednesday, July 28, 2010

In which the Warlock gets a guest-blogger

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Greetings, all. I’m Mrs. L (personally, I think Madame L has more of a ring to it, but what can you do...?), and the esteemed Warlock asked me to pinch-blog for him while he is off with his lady wife.

Clearly, I was willing, or you wouldn’t be reading this, so I asked him what he had in mind. “Geeky,” he says. Ah. Geeky.

So, I debated whether I should discuss Gargoyles trivia (did you know that Hudson is Broadway’s biological father?) or Glee shipping (Burt/Carole FTW) or feminist Christian theory (...yeah, I’m not touching that one) or even the current story arc in Sluggy Freelance (Zoe will survive thanks to some combination of nanites and magic, just you wait), when it occurred to me...

You folks just met me, so why don’t I tell you about how I met the Warlock?

(And I promise, this won’t be an 8-season ramble narrated by Bob Saget.*)

It was early spring, 2001, in Susquehanna, PA. Mir had fallen into the Pacific, and the Netherlands were about to become the first country in the modern age to legalize same-sex marriage. Hugh Jackman and Ashley Judd were melting hearts in Someone Like You, and September 11 was just the day before my dad’s birthday.

The Pennsylvania High School Speech League gathered for its annual statewide competition at Susquehanna University. The Warlock and I were both slated to compete in Student Congress.

I sucked. Few of the bills on which I had prepared to speak came up over the course of the weekend (including the one my school drafted, and therefore would have been required to introduce), and of the ones that did, my turn to speak never came before other students had already made my points.

Granted, in theory I should have been prepared to speak on any and all of the bills. In theory I also should have had teammates help me prepare for these bills long before I took the ride up to Susquehanna. In practice, though, I was the only person on my team, and there’s only so much a single person can do. So it goes.

As an aside, let me give you a sense of how this event works. The bills are divided up based on subject content, and then the students presenting said bills are split into committees: health, armed forces, education, whatever is relevant. The committees then figure out the order in which their bills should be presented. Judges watch the committee meetings to see if anyone distinguishes him/herself. It’s a real chicken-or-egg thing, because students whose bills are presented first are guaranteed to speak early on and score points -- but you have to be pretty persuasive to get put in that position. Sort of earning your unfair advantage, if you will.

A president of the congress is elected to oversee the debates. He or she decides who gets to speak on the bills, pro or con, once said bills are presented. Being friends with the president can help. Electing the president can take hours, especially when “that guy” has something at stake. Which guy? The one more interested in nitpicking parliamentary procedure than in actually debating bills and scoring points. Just as likely to be a girl, of course.

Once the docket and the president are handled, the bills are presented, one per committee and then back to the beginning.

Within each bill, the representative of the authorial school gives a presentation, followed by a “con” speech from someone opposing it. This may be followed by a “pro” speech, back and forth until a vote is called. After every speech, the floor is opened for questions. This was where I shone. Sadly, questions don’t get you points. Speakers are scored on their speeches: how many, and how well done each was, including how well the speaker handled the questions. Having one’s bill pass is a huge moral victory, but you can lose every vote you speak on and still win the competition by a landslide.

During this competition, I was seated next to this guy from upstate. He was smart and funny and nothing was gonna happen because he had just gotten out of a relationship and I was just about to get into one. No, seriously, I’m talking a margin of days on both sides.

So we end up using spare index cards to pass notes during the... let’s call them “less scintillating” moments of the competitions (Shut up, “that guy”). And then, on lunch break, we figured we might as well eat together. In the cafeteria. Which was showing Batman: Mask of the Phantasm on TV.

The rest is geek history. We swapped emails and, eventually, IMs ever since (and we’re pushing 10 years, aren’t we? Wow) but we’ve never actually met each other in person since then. Dude, next time you’re in New York, text me.

*(And that, kids, is how I met your Aunt Robin.)

Mrs. L is also known as Laura Grow-Nyberg.  You can read more of her stuff at Reviewing Whatever and Life is (not) Boring.  She is totally willing to write about Gargoyles, Glee, feminist Christian theory, or Sluggy Freelance.  Also, puppies.
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