Rita is Back

How to Teach Your Dog to Come

Posted in Wordplay by ritaisback on December 20, 2009


I have a very special friend, to whom I will refer as “SM”  who inspired this post.  SM is lovable in so many ways, but what I most enjoy about him is his elegant sense of wordplay.  With his self-deprecating sense of humor, he has no trouble going into a health food store and asking where the “apples, fresh corn and orgasmic carrots” are kept.  Then there is his trip to clothing stores, where he will ask, straight-faced where the “socks, shirts and spermal underwear are.”  I think you get the point.

This is my recount of a story he told me, embellished with my “fly on the wall” take of events at a function to which I was not an attendee.

When SM and his then-fiancée took jobs at a very well-known and high-tech company, they had to go through two weeks of training with all of the new hires.  The culmination of the training sessions was that everybody had to stand up and give a speech to the other new hires to ensure that everybody was comfortable with public speaking.  As a teacher, I have never had a problem with getting up in front of a group of students and taking command of the room.  That is my job.  However, many people have trouble with the concept of public speaking.  It is not natural to them and to some it is anathema.

After SM and his lady gave their speeches (successfully, I would presume), a very non-assuming woman stood up to give her presentation which she had entitled “How to Teach Your Dog to Come.”  Once the title of the speech was announced, SM totally lost it.  Here he was in a room of technical gurus (read:  nerds) and all he needed was to hear the name of the speech before he was unable to burst out in uncontrollable laughter.  Few things tickle SM or myself more than the good old French term of the “double entendre.”

For those of you who might be unfamiliar with the term, or need a refresher course, http://www.dictionary.com defines it as -noun, plural

1. a double meaning.
2. a word or expression used in a given context so that it can be understood in two ways, esp. when one meaning is risqué.

The key word here, of course, is “risqué.”  SM can not hold himself back when a risqué term is suddenly uttered, particularly when meant in a different context.

Back to the story.  We now have a roomful of people who are desperately trying to encourage the speaker to continue her speech.  SM would have none of that.  He could not stop laughing.  As his lady kicked him, he tried to get a hold of himself.  Yet every time the speaker continued, his bursts of glee had the effect of taking the attention off of the speaker and onto himself.  There was a job at stake.  There was a marriage at stake.  Yet SM could not gain control of his emotions.  He thought that this was a hilarious situation and was not in a position to make any bones about it.

Public speaking is a lost art.  With the internet, we can now hide behind our identities and use any words we choose, safe in the knowledge that if we choose a wrong word, nobody will call us on it.  As a teacher, I have to stand up in front of a group of students and try to convey information that will be useful and meaningful to them in their academic careers.  One wrong slip and my job is at stake.  There is no margin for error in a classroom, where students look upon the teacher as “the final word.”  If a teacher tells a student something, the student will take it as fact and assimilate it into their breadth of knowledge.  Have I ever made a mistake in speaking to a class or student?  Of course.  I am human.  What has saved me on those occasions?  Careful planning.  If you walk into a classroom without a carefully crafted lesson plan you are doomed to err.  That is not acceptable.

Most people will eventually find themselves in a position to address a group of people for whatever reason.  Without careful planning one is doomed to lose their audience, or worse, embarrass themselves (or somebody else).  Lose your audience  and you’ve lost your point.  Engage your audience and they will listen with rapt attention.  That is the goal of public speaking in any capacity:  to be not only heard, but to be listened to. 

I am happy to report that SM did marry his fiancée and they both got the jobs, despite SM’s uncontrollable outbursts of laughter.  What became of the speaker, I do not know.  She made a critical error from the get-go:   she used a word in the title of her speech that was a double-edged sword.  Had she gone with “sit,” “give a paw” or “roll over” she would have had a more effective speech that captured her audience with no mistake for misunderstanding.

What was your most embarrassing moment in addressing an audience?  What word or phrase did you choose that mortified you because your point was lost from the beginning? 


9 Responses

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  1. Cath Lawson said, on December 20, 2009 at 10:59 pm

    LMAO Rita – I spat my coffee out when I saw the title of your post. Like your friend, I would have been unable to stifle my laughter in that situation.

    I have accidentally said way more unfortunately embarrassing things than I care to remember. Not so much double entrendres but almost always careless mistakes.

    Trouble is, I almost always realise what I said as soon as it comes out and start laughing.

    When I was around 20, I was working for a door and kitchen manufacturer. And I was given the responsibility of renting a large TV and video for health and safety training sessions.

    Anyway, one day I left a colleague to lock up the equipment for me and a few of them were caught watching porn videos. One of them got fired and I got into trouble for trusting someone else to secure the equipment.

    A couple of weeks later the General Manager asked me when I was sending the equipment back and I replied that I was waiting to see if anyone wanted to use it for anything else. I immediately realised how bad it sounded and burst into laughter.

    He was a chauvenistic asshole and started giving me lectures on how people didn’t take me seriously, because I kept laughing inappropriately. That made me laugh even more because I knew he didn’t take me seriously, as I didn’t have a penis.

  2. ritaisback said, on December 20, 2009 at 11:14 pm

    I am LMAO at your comment. It is another “fly on the wall” moment: how I wished that I could have been there to see your GM’s face when you couldn’t stop laughing uncontrollaby!
    You may not have a penis, Cath, but you DO have balls!
    Thanks for your comment and continued support. I’m glad I gave you a chuckle!

  3. I.B. Coming said, on December 21, 2009 at 9:36 pm

    I have to hand it to SM (hand what? I don’t know). I’d have reacted the same way to a speech like that and would be surprised to hear that anybody wouldn’t. Public speaking is a tricky art. One cannot always understand the nuances of his/her selected words, and that is an inevitable risk. Then again, as I think back on my life, I have to credit my parents for teaching me how to come. In high school, every time I came home later than expected, I could expect a lecture on how I need to come on schedule. It’s a lesson, not only for dogs, but for us humans as well.

    Cath, for whatever it’s worth, I DO have a penis (last I checked) and nobody takes me seriously anyway. Perhaps the ‘P’ factor can be taken up in a future blog.

  4. ritaisback said, on December 22, 2009 at 1:08 am

    I.B. Your comment (and chosen name) are heartily appreciated, as is your comment. Clearly your parents had a large impact on your comings and goings. As for me, I can only hope that I did SM and his story justice.
    As for you message to Cath, I think that I’ll let that one go for now. Let’s just say that I wouldn’t touch it with a ten-foot pole. 🙂 Whether one is taken more or less seriously when one has a penis in another topic for another day – and another blogger.
    Whether you have a penis or not is irrelevant here. I know that I took your comment very seriously – with bursts of laughter tempering my reaction. Thank you for your comment. It has added yet another aspect to the dialogue.
    One last note: if you have to keep checking on whether you do, in fact, have a penis, might I suggest that you check with either a wife or girlfriend (past or present) to give you some reassurance in the matter? I do have to hand it to you, though, for remembering to check in the first place. A penis is a terrible thing to waste… (IMHO)

  5. Call Me Megazorg said, on December 22, 2009 at 4:20 am

    It’s great that you’re writing again. It’s good stuff. But I think you are making unwarranted assumptions about the dog. Like, maybe it’s a female dog? What if there’s such a thing as a doggie vibrator? Dogs have needs too, and maybe (hu)man”s best friend just needed a little help getting over the hump, so to speak?

    On the other hand, the story is hilarious no matter what. And you told it well.

  6. ritaisback said, on December 22, 2009 at 4:50 pm

    To Call Me Megazorg,
    Thank you for your hilarious comment. I’m glad that you enjoy the writing. I make no assumptions about the dog in question and am fully cognizent, that whether male or female, all dogs (and humans) do indeed have their needs.
    In my experience with dogs, a vibrator would be unnecessary: a human leg usually does the trick. Whether or not there are doggie vibrators, you have now sent me on a quest to see if such a thing is available. I will get back to you on that.
    In the interim, I hope that you will come to my blog site. I actually hope that you come frequently and enjoy the experience each and every time. 🙂


  7. ritaisback said, on December 22, 2009 at 4:58 pm

    To Call Me Megazorg,
    Perhaps you should try going to http://www.theatons.com/vibrators . There you will find the name of a vibrator for your dog. It looks like the writer has done his homework – first hand.

  8. Kelvin Kao said, on December 24, 2009 at 9:47 am

    When I saw the title, it reminded me of a South Park episode in which Eric Cartman made his dog come thinking that he’s milking the dog, but that’s beside the point.

    If I were at the speech, I would’ve probably just chuckled to myself and my mind would start to wander. I would be thinking about how to make up more related puns, since I have a love for double entendre and puns. For example: Gather up the construction crew and start building a strip club now! If you build it, they will come!

    My work place is pretty relaxed about this stuff, since there are only four of us and we are all 20-something guys that know one another well.

  9. ritaisback said, on December 24, 2009 at 1:04 pm

    I remember that South Park episode well, and your reminder made me laugh all over again. In all honesty, I don’t know what I would have done that day as the speaker stood up and tried to take command of her audience. I probably would have put up a facade, let her get though her speech and then lost it at a later moment by cracking up.
    These are the “fly on the wall moments” that are so difficult to imagine how one might react. You are very fortunate to work with such a small group who must know each other rather well. As always, I appreciate your comment and hope that you will re-visit me. Nothing would please me greater than if you would come often. 🙂

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