Monday, February 19, 2007

A tisket, a casket

This week is fixing to be full of four-clickers. I rate the impending stressfulness of my days by the number of estimated deodorant clicks it will take to get through an entire day without looking at any point like I just swapped shirts with Ruben Studdard after he went through a carwash with the windows down.

Saturdays are usually two-clickers. Regular work days are three-clickers. Days where I have to stand up and speak in front of an audience bigger than my bathroom mirror are four-clickers. That’s the maximum on the click scale. I don’t know what would constitute a five-clicker, but it would probably have to be a day something like the kind Jack Bauer has about once a year.

Speaking of which, why isn’t Jack doing deodorant commercials? “When I’m methodically shocking somebody I was friends with three minutes ago with a stripped wire from a hotel lamp, I need to make sure I’m dry. And it doesn’t hurt if I smell like a Mountain Breeze, too. ZZZZZAP!”

The click scale is per-armpit, of course, so a four-clicker is really a total of eight clicks, for those who might be thinking of trying this at home. Sometimes I accidentally click too many times on a side, in which case I try to do the majority of my sweating on the side that has more deodorant, which would be easier to do if I wasn’t so dang bilaterally symmetrical.

I’m traveling for work this week, attending a conference that requires me not only to extract my shampoo from tiny little bottles, but also to overcome my irrational fear of speaking at the front of a room while a bunch of people stare at me. Public speaking is something that I look forward to almost as much as I look forward to Eddie Murphy fat suit movies. That is to say, I do not look forward to it all that much.

When people find out that you’re traveling for work, they like to say things like, “Oh, the company’s paying for you to take a little vacation, huh?”

They’re right. Traveling for work really is almost exactly like a regular vacation, except that your friends and family can’t come with you and you have to do work the entire time, and occasionally you have to do things that terrify you.

I’m reminded of the old Seinfeld bit in which he notes that most people are more scared of public speaking than of death, which means that at a funeral most people would rather be in the casket than delivering the eulogy. I don’t think I’d take it that far, but if there’s one thing that can be said for Seinfeld, it’s that he’s never driven across the country wearing diapers to pepper spray an astronaut. I love that about him.

I’ve found that the key to surviving public speaking is just to practice as many times as possible beforehand, and also to give away free T-shirts if you can. If I have to speak extemporaneously, the sensation is similar to driving off the road into a cornfield, with ears of corn bonking into the windshield as I desperately try to find my way back onto the road without saying some boneheaded thing that spectators might later describe as “Oedipal.” Practice is always of the utmost importance, unless you’re a really famous professional athlete, in which case skipping practice will just make you more famous.

When I have to leave for these trips every now and again, my wife Kara and I like to make a big deal out of saying goodbye, like it’s the last scene in Casablanca. That only problem is that I’m the one getting on the plane, so I think that makes me Ingrid Bergman.

You can picture Mike Todd wearing only black socks online at


  1. Thanks for specifying that your units were per-armpit, because I was going to ask. I'm going to spice up my life this week and try out this "deodorant" product you speak so highly of.

    Good luck dude. If I were there I'd initiate a slow-clap-->standing-ovation at every opportunity.

  2. Send word ahead of your arrival that you spit alot when public speaking. This will reduce the audience size. I find it easier to talk to smaller groups than large oceans of humanity. But maybe that's just me.

  3. Totally relate to the talking in public. I have no clue how I passed speech at college. And on top of that, when I get nervous I blush. Which makes me self conscious. Which makes me blush...

    How true with the Oedipal reference. Half the time I myself don't know what I'm going to say. Thought it was just me. Ha.

  4. Russ -- If you try it in conjunction with toothpaste, there's no stopping you. Also, you're a funny bastard.

    Anon -- Thanks for tip! Your identity will remain safe with me, whatever it is.

    Buster -- Dude, guess we'll just have to keep cruising by on our looks.