Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Do clothes make the man?

March 20th

It took all parties involved, myself, the family Stone, and all the resources of the Gippsland Grammar Rowing Club community to suitably attire me for the occasion. Fortunately, Dan, while somewhere between 7 and 10 inches shorter than me, has quite broad shoulders, and I could just fit into one of his dress shits with the sleeves rolled up and the neck open, thus forgoing the tie and going for the more casual look. I felt kinda like an Iranian businessman. The rest of the suit was provided by another GG rowing coach, and last but not least, the shoes were provided by Frank himself. It was, as they say, "no dramas" – a mantra much to my liking. It is an absurdly simple joy of mine to walk into a dressy occasion. It’s strange how a few bits of cloth can change personalities. School boys and girls I had seen on the campus and rowing club earlier that day were transformed that evening into young men and women. Their suits and dresses appearing, at least, to bring out something extra in them.

I don’t eat before a presentation, but depending on the lead up time, I have a glass or two of red wine. Thank God I’m at an Aussie high school function that involves parents and condones the presence of a few drops. If they don’t have wine, I drink coffee. Unfortunately my presentation materials had not arrived from Seattle, and thus I was more than pleased with myself that I had built and, at least briefly, practiced another presentation. Still the voice and the timing were a bit rusty, and I felt the best antidote to this was to go with gusto. After all, I did know the story .... It’s nice to know I’ve still got it. The applause at least sounded genuine. I find a presentation exhilarating and exhausting and a pleasure that I have begun to cultivate. This one reminded me of that.

I sat back and enjoyed with interest the customs of an Aussie awards banquet. Songs, speeches. Dan stands out in my mind. The boys he coached were initially what he classified as difficult, but it was hard not to hear the warmth in his voice as he spoke of the charisma these five boys had and how, at the end, it was a privilege to have coached them.

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