I gave my third Storytelling manual speech towards my Advanced Toastmaster Bronze (ATM-B) award titled, Sealed With A Kiss (shown below). That 8 minute 31-second speech was told (without notes) in the presence of my wife, Sherry, who attended along with many others.
Each speaker received written speaker comments from the audience. Sherry gave me one signed only as XXXOOO. ;-)
This is the story of a young man and it starts many years ago.
That young man was at a turning point in his life. He had previously been in love and those relationships ended sadly for him. He also had dropped out of college and that left him with some insecurities about himself. That young man was starting to drift and we'll see where those earlier rites of passage lead him to his destiny.
In April 1972 the young man purchased a motorcycle. This was his third motorcycle and it was very fast. He enjoyed riding all over town with this new possession. Always eager to show off this new symbol of independence, he stopped by one day to visit one of his best friends, named Angel.
Angel was about the same age as his buddy. He was already married to Linda and the two young men continued their long friendship by getting together often over at Angel and Linda's house.
In the warm Spring of this particular day, Angel was talking with the young man in his garage. The typical male-bonding questions and answers between them in Angel's garage were interrupted by the sudden and unexpected presence of a young woman. The young woman had been walking by when she saw Angel talking to a guy inside, standing near a cool looking motorcycle. She didn't wait for an invitation to join in the conversation, she just started right in asking her own questions.
Angel, not wanting to appear rude, introduced the young woman to his friend. The young man was not impressed with her. While he wouldn't go so far as to say her visit was interfering with his private conversation with Angel, he did feel awkward and tended to ignore her. Her visit with them was short, maybe she got the hint that her continued presence was making the young man uncomfortable.
Normally, the young man might not have minded meeting a new woman in his life. But at this point he was not interested in women. He knew where he was going soon and it didn't include a female partner to slow him down. He was very confident about that!
It turned out that Linda and the young woman were best friends, since they lived next door to one another. As time would have it, the young man ended up going out on dates with the young woman, occasionally along with Angel and Linda.
Of course, the dating had conditions, the young man explained. He made no hesitation in informing the young woman on their first date how he was going to live his life and that she shouldn't even begin to get any romantic ideas about him.
After listening to the young man expound on his conditions, the young woman immediately realized she could never have any romantic ideas about him. She thought he was weird! But, she showed courage and went out with him anyways often during that Summer. At some point after a couple weeks, the young man relented on one of his dating conditions and starting paying for her part of the date. The young woman wasn't impressed with his change of heart. She still thought he was weird!
That Fall, the young man decided to move to California and achieve one of his many dreams. He told his family and friends of his plans, including telling the young woman. This young man was known for his plans. He had no doubts about his vision, so why should any one else have any? Even the young woman took the time to say goodbye to him on the phone and wished him the best. When he left town the young man knew he left no strings between them.
He moved to Santa Barbara, California that November, a place known to reach out to new arrivals with open arms. However, just to enjoy his new freedom, he spent a lot of his time at the beach. He spent much of his limited funds in the process of beach-combing.
Surprisingly, two or three times a week he would receive friendship cards in the mail from the young woman he left behind. She seemed confused, because every one of her cards was signed with her name and then three X's and three O's. He thought she must be so mixed up not to leave him space to put his own X's and O's in that apparent game of Tick-Tac-Toe.
Strangely enough, I somehow have one of those cards in my possession.
As fate would have it, the young man never found that Welcome Wagon office in Santa Barbara during his very brief residency there. Within a short time he realized he had made a mistake. This young man who could tell tales, found he grew one and then tucking it between his legs, returned to his city of birth just two months after his move to California.
Upon arrival to his home city, he called Angel and let him know he was back in town. Angel was so excited to hear of his best friend being back, that he came over and brought his young friend to his house.
The young man was tired from his cross-country trip, but as soon as he entered Angel and Linda's home, he saw the young woman standing there and immediately lost his heart to her. Whatever plans he had up to that moment vanished--poof! His new plan now was to find a way to marry her!
So they started dating--without any conditions. They discovered they liked each other a lot. Then they fell in love.
Once in love they started talking about getting married. When the young man proposed to her in March of 1973, in the most romantic of settings, she told him she would need some time to consider his proposal.
Needless to say, at that time in his life, contemplation and waiting was not in his nature. Can you believe that she took an entire half-hour to decide to accept his proposal? He never waited so long in his life! Of course she might say that was the fastest decision she ever made in her life.
They had a very long engagement and a month later they got married. Their wedding took place in a small Wisconsin town, in a small church. The youngest wedding guest was 48 at the time, the oldest 71. They still think they had the best wedding they could have ever had.
When the minister was finished with that wedding ceremony in April 1973, the two lovers, Don and Sherry set off on a long marriage of love. They kissed that day as man and wife and every day since, because that love between them is sealed with a kiss.
In a few weeks from now the hills will be green and the flowers blooming in return for all that rain. But while it's cool outside, Sherry and I can snuggle here at home, exchanging more XXX's and OOO's.