Sandbox Assignment 7: If Seth was invited to give a speech, who would he be speaking to, what would the topic be, and why?
If he accepted the invitation, he would be speaking to a bunch of senior citizens about diversity and world peace because a stranger on the sidewalk asked him to. But that’s only if he accepted, and thankfully, Seth doesn’t have to accept, because he apparently has better things to do with his life.
Everyone loves public speaking, and everyone loves solicitors. When a stranger asks Seth to give a speech, Seth… downright refuses. No purpose going out of the comfort zone for something dumb like this, right?
Seth had heard of this thing called “public speaking” before; he had just never cared for it, much less thought that a random, pudgy-faced man with graying blonde hair and bouncing jowls would suddenly ask him to do it.
Well, maybe it was plausible. On television. When Seth wasn’t walking with Keeley to pick up Adrian from school in the middle of the neighborhood sidewalk.
If it had been to anyone else it would have been better, but Evan Peach didn’t know that.
“Greetings, young man, hello, hello!” He was wearing a sign around his neck that read World Piece – not “peace,” but “piece” – as if he had purposefully stuck the cardboard slab over his big belly to try to further decrease his own self-esteem.
“I see you’re out for a nice walk with your daughter on this fine, peaceful day!”
Seth thought he could see where the man was going with this. And daughter?
“Sister,” he corrected as the guy reached out five sausage fingers to forcefully shake Seth’s free hand in a grimy sort of embrace.
“I’m Evan Peach, and I wanted to ask you, do you know where this beautiful war-free day comes from?”
Lots of bloodshed and treaties that cost thousands of lives?
“That’s right, it comes from people like you and me working together to bring harmony and blessing to mankind!” Evan clamped his arm around Seth’s shoulder. “Friend, it takes effort to bring about peace like this. Real effort, you know? Neighbors on the street saying hello to each other. Giving a person a smile every day to make yourself feel good about yourself. It’s about community, diversity, and…well, say, what’s your ethnic background?”
Seth ducked under the heavy arm and rubbed his shoulder, unable to believe the guy. Keeley looked up at him quizzically and tugged at his hand, pointing at her little pink watch on her wrist, but this Peach man wasn’t letting up.
“I’m gonna have to say Vietnamese. Is that it? …wait, no, no, I’ve got it. You look… well, I have to say, I can clearly see your North Korean roots, it’s in your hands, you know? Never gotten the wrong vibe from the hands. And your eyes say Japanese! Midnight blue just like that, yes, I know that, I’ve seen it in a picture once. Probably some Dutch in your background, too, am I right?”
Running a hand through his hair, Seth exhaled in frustration. “Hey, look, Peach, I’d love to chat about life and all, but I’m running late for something, so – ”
Peach put his hands up. “No worries. No worries at all! I’ll just walk with you and your little girl here.”
“Right, right, how old is she, four? Little cutie.” He rubbed Keeley’s head at this, which she clearly found annoying, and Seth in turn found himself getting more annoyed as the man walked beside them. “You know, I’m pretty good at guessing people’s ethnic backgrounds; my grandma always told me I had a gift for it, a real gift, so she always said, ‘Evan, my boy, you have a real gift for knowing stuff about people as soon as you lay eyes on ’em.’ She said that, and I’m no liar, I’m pretty sure I got you down to a t.”
Adrian’s school was still three blocks away. Will he never shut up?
“So, I’ve started this organization to promote world peace; it’s called ‘World Peace.’ Every year we have a great big meeting conference thing with speakers about how we can put this into action, and we were looking for a guest speaker, and this year’s theme is diversity, you know, because diversity is a big part of world peace. Last year’s theme was conformity which was super great, and we got like identical twins to speak and it was just awesome, man, Mrs. Shana gathered a huge crowd there with all her friends. At one point we had a hard time with all those hearing aids in one place, but we got it solved, so this year should be great and we’ll have like tea and man, I know this is a big favor to ask of you, but it would mean so much to everyone, so would you be willing to speak at our conference?”
Did I hear wrong? “I’m sorry… what?”
“Diversity.” Peach looked dreamily up at the blue sky. “It’s a beautiful thing. You wanna give a speech for us in a week?”
Seth and Keeley stopped at the gate and waved at Adrian, who exchanged some last words with his friends, then ran over. “No, I don’t.”
“Bro, it would mean so much, thank you – ”
“I said no.”
Adrian looked inquisitively at the strange man Seth was talking to, but being too shy to ask, he just waited with them.
Peach persisted. “Man, it only has to be, like, half an hour long, it won’t take up much of your time, I swear.”
Seth took Adrian’s hand and began walking away, but Peach tried to follow, his voice still pleading. “You can give me your phone number, and I’ll call you every day for an hour, and man, we really need this speech…”
“Here’s what you do,” Seth suggested sarcastically. “You say, ‘Thanks for coming, everyone, enjoy the tea party and help us promote world peace!’ And for the remaining twenty-nine minutes, you can sing Barney songs and dance to show them just how much world peace will help them. It’s a win-win. You look like more of an idiot, and everyone else doesn’t totally waste their time.”
“But – ”
“Look,” Seth interrupted. “All I know is that you’re a lonely bachelor with nothing better to do than to bug people. You talk too much, think you’re more important than you really are, and probably have some kind of inferiority complex with a serious case of denial that makes you refuse to see that people are sick of you talking their ears off. You probably didn’t get enough attention as a kid, which apparently crippled your ability to listen to people. You can’t take no for an answer; your organization is slipping down the drain with no one who really cares about it; and your little tea parties aren’t going to help you through that no matter how much you refuse to acknowledge the fact. Your dumb sign is spelled incorrectly, and I’m pretty sure the neighborhood has something against this soliciting that could be reported as harassment, so stop following us before I call the police.”
Peach stood in shock on the sidewalk. Seth and the Yoo kids left him there, the two kids looking back at him, then looking back at Seth with questioning looks, but he didn’t feel like explaining it to them.
“I’ll take that as a maybe!” Peach shouted from behind. “See you next week! …do you want my number? You and your kids going home now?”
They’re not my kids.
“Yup. I hope you find your world piece.” Or a piece of the world where you find some purpose in your pathetic life.