Every year on the first Saturday after the 25th of January, my friends Jonathon and Meg host a Bobby Burns Supper. This is the third year they've done it, and it's gotten better and better each time.
The first year Meg thought, "oh, I guess our friends don't like Scotch", because they had a bunch of mostly0full bottles afterwards. Last year, Jonathon splurged on a 12 year old Macallan, and learned that his friends did, indeed, like Scotch. Good Scotch, at any rate. This year the fellow bought a bottle of 15 year-old Macallan--I've never tasted anything so smooth (and so potent) in my life!
They have three traditions--The address to the Haggis (they serve real and vegetarian haggis, and the veggie stuff was fantastic this year), reading of Burns' poetry (often in silly accents, including--this year--Southern and German... v. strange, that), and the toast to the Immortal Memory.
The Immortal Memory is a biography speech, followed by a toast. It can be humorous or serious, although the tradition at this party is that it get heckled by the crowd. The loudest heckler of the evening is the one who gets to make the speech next year. Oddly enough, last year's winner was "in vacation" this week...
Which meant that I was called upon to give the speech. They went well. In fact, I'm really quite proud of how well they went--I spend most of my life either doing things that are very, very hard (like playing the violin) or very very easy (like my job at Northwestern, or most of the lighting design work that I get). Either way, I'm usually not very proud of the work I do.
But, by god, I can give an after-dinner speech! In fact, I'm fucking certified at it! Through a loophole, I'm the youngest certified Toastmaster in North Carolina (I didn't know that you had to be 18 to join, so I finished all of the requirements and made all the speeches before I turned 17). Anyway, I'm not claiming that it's anything world-saving, just that I'm much better at after-dinner speeches than most people I know, and I'm proud of that.
To continue tooting my own horn, I was so good that there weren't any hecklers. The speech went so well that I was afraid I was boring everyone to tears, because no one was saying anything (although they did laugh at most of the right places). My friend Dennis is giving the speech next year because he broke in at one point with a bunch of effusive praise--so effusive that everyone thought he was being sarcastic. Anyway, I'm getting uncomfortable talking about who good I am.
I made a True speech, and then when I'd finished they were willing to let me go ahead and give them the other one I'd written, the False speech. I took great precautions that, no matter how drunk I got, I could not possibly find myself reciting the rap song that I wrote, however.