The Monotonous Speech

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The man walked slowly to the front of the room, papers in hand, gently crinkling with each step. He set them down on the podium and glided his gaze over the crowd. Today the talk would be about analytical statistics, a topic I consistently heard mentioned, but seldom understood.

He began with a complicated equation. I assumed a face which I imagined to be intently focused, and nodded my head in time with his sentences. I glanced over at my supervisor who appeared to be completely engrossed in the topic.

The man had begun talking about something called an "F-statistic". "What is an F-statistic?" I wondered. I began thinking of the letter "F" in my head. Who decided to call it "eff"? Why aren't letters spelled the way they sound? Shouldn't we pronounce it "ffff" instead? I went through the alphabet, using the sounds of letters rather than their names in my head. My thoughts were interrupted as I reached "ssss" - The man cleared his throat and pointed to a graph with multiple coloured lines. "This graph was actually used in a paper, believe it or not" he said. The audience chuckled, so I joined in. I didn't understand the joke, but charaded a face of amused disbelief. Did I look convincing? I wondered if I was the only one who didn't understand the joke.

The speaker asked the audience a question. I had missed what he said, so I avoided eye contact and tried to look pensive, writing notes on a pad of paper. I subtly glanced at the clock. 30 more minutes. I thought of my lunch, a bland peanut butter sandwich. I would rather eat peanut butter sandwiches all day than sit a minute longer through this talk.

I became aware of the squeak of the man's shoes as he walked back and forth across the front of the room. They were made of brown leather, polished to perfection and laced in an unrealistically symmetrical way. Who spends that much time on their shoelaces? His black pants were pressed and his button down shirt tucked neatly at his waistline. He seemed to move around more than the average relaxed person. Though his voice was strong and confident, a light sheen of sweat glistened on his brow. Was he nervous? Perhaps he didn't understand analytical statistics himself and was worried we would find out. "Don't worry!", I thought. "I don't know what you mean either".

I glanced around the room again. How was everyone so focused? I fought the urge to look at the clock again. "Just pay attention", I told myself. My willpower failed me and I glanced at the clock again. Only 4 minutes had gone by since I last looked up. This talk will never end...

Created: Apr 28, 2017


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