I just received a video of my granddaughter performing in her school Christmas play. So sweet. I’d share, but she’d disown me. In kindergarten I too was part of the Christmas pageant, putting in a stirring performance as lead candy cane. Still carrying my baby fat at that age, I was unmistakable as chubby cheeked candy cane number one, center stage. Probably the role was handed to me to balance out the stage so the less corpulent candy canes could line up on either side. Smile.
Before going on stage I remember my bladder nearly failing me from nervousness and my heart pounding like a kettle drum. Public speaking was not then, nor never will be I’m afraid, my strong suit. Oddly enough I rather like being the center of attention while telling a story at a social gathering but hand me a microphone and shine a spotlight on me and I puddle like a spring rain.
Because I have been called upon fairly often over the years to stand alone in front of my peers, I once took a class entitled “Conquering Your Fear of Public Speaking”. If you see this subject title, do not sign up. As a matter of fact if you see any class on the subject, run and do not look back.
I was prompted to do so by events occurring during the holidays the year before I attended the class. It was in the middle of my twenty-first year on this earth. My best friend from high school had recently announced her engagement. Phone lines were instantly afire with excitement. As women do when such an announcement is made (we ladies all know how lucky we are to land such prizes as you men), shower dates were set, bridesmaids chosen, dresses rejected and one selected, and a tornado of activity was set into motion. Married already, I was to be Matron of Honor. A December wedding was planned, red being the signature color. The venue was to be an enormous Catholic church, with a high mass scheduled for the ceremony.
All of the ten attendants were still living in the Southern California area except for myself, living in the Bay Area, and another high school chum living out-of-state. The Matron of Honor being an integral player in the wedding, this presented some obvious logistical problems for me. A young mother of two with a full-time job, my finances as well as my time constraints were pulled tight, making it difficult for me to travel back and forth at my leisure. Luckily, the bride’s parents were quite well to do and extended an offer to fund my plane trips as needed, and plans were set in place.
During the months preceding the wedding I traveled numerous times to attend lavish showers and pre wedding events. At the third shower I attended I achieved my “bow bouquet making badge” and discovered a previously undetected gift for creating fabulous bridal gowns out of toilet paper. Who knew?
Cake became the focus of one visit necessitating traveling half of the L.A. area in search of the perfect flavor. After sampling everything from apple through red velvet, the final selection was classic white with a Bavarian cream and fresh strawberry filling, the first cake we’d tasted. Next it was on to dress fittings. After all the cake I’d consumed I was relieved to discover I could still zip the body hugging gown selected for me to wear.
To be a bit punnish, a small bump in the road occurred around this time. It seemed the out-of-state attendant, an unmarried girl, had turned up pregnant, a fact she’d omitted when accepting the original invitation to be a bridesmaid. Unlike today, where no one would take much notice of such a happening, back in the day the scent of such scandal would have set the local gossip’s tongues to wagging like a pack of thirsty blue tick hounds on a hot summer afternoon. Her dress, a petite size 6, obviously was no longer going to be a perfect fit. Also, her name listed as Miss Hicks on the program was probably not going to sit well with the Catholic clergy, not known at the time for climbing on the band wagon when it came to such salacious goings on. The fact that the dress was a lovely shade of scarlet only added to the irony of the situation. Panic mode in place, the dressmaker was dispatched to add fill out the front of the girl’s gown and fuller bouquets were ordered to help disguise the youngest member of our group beneath the foliage.
Working on the Friday of the rehearsal dinner, reservations were made for my husband and I for early evening flight. We were to arrive barely in time to rehearse with the rest of the bridal party then enjoy a little celebrating immediately following at a local Italian restaurant. Luck nor weather on our side, our flight was delayed due to fog. The plane didn’t touch down until the happy couple’s parents had delivered their last speech at Luigi’s and were standing in front of the mirror at home brushing their teeth.
It was important to me to get a practice run in for several reasons. The church itself was massive and the lengthy mass required the Matron of Honor to perform several key functions. To add to my trepidation, the groom hailed from a huge Italian family so there were to be three hundred and fifty plus souls watching from the pews should I trip over my gown or succomb to a wild case of the hiccups while the priest was officiating. Ach. Assured by a late night phone call with the bride the wedding planner would run me through my part early in the morning I still slept fitfully, arriving at the church an hour early for our appointment.
Hair done, makeup in place, and dressed, the wedding planner guided me into the cavernous church resplendent with poinsettias and began putting me through my paces. “You take the brides bouquet here”, she instructed. “You approach the altar here”, came next. “When you give your speech”, she said. “Whoa, stop the cameras, what speech?” It seemed both the best man and myself were scheduled to give a speech to the congregation, a rather large and half English-speaking congregation. “Are you kidding me?” Immediately my thoughts were redirected to the closest available restroom.
Somehow, in the end I managed to get through the hour plus without having to move afterwards or assume an alias. At the podium, terrified beyond belief, words poured forth from my mouth (as least according to my mother in attendance) as if I’d delivered the prepared speech written on the shaking paper a hundred times before. Once through the day glass of champagne in hand, I vowed to take a class on speaking. Trust me, the wedding ceremony was a piece of cake (sorry) compared to the humiliation I endured in the class. So, I remain humbly inept at the art of the public speaking.
These bars are so good. I received the recipe from a friend who received the recipe from a friend. I added my touches, and included hers. In the end they are soooooo sticky-licious.
Glazed Yam and Orange Bars
1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup butter
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 Tbsp. orange zest
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 large yam, peeled and finely grated
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 Tbsp. butter, softened
2 Tbsp. milk
1/4 cup finely crumbled walnuts
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Grease a 9 x 13″ pan.
In medium mixing bowl sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
Cream brown sugar, granulated sugar and butter together in large mixing bowl. Add eggs one at a time mixing well between each addition. Add vanilla and orange zest and mix well.
Mix in flour mixture 1/3 at a time until just blended. Fold in grated yam.
Pour into prepared pan. Bake for 45-50 mins. or until filling is completely set and toothpick comes out clean when inserted in middle. Allow to cool slightly.
Mix all glaze ingredients together until smooth. Spread over warm cake and allow to cool.
Cut into squares and serve warm if possible, although yummy any way.