The question of was I poisoned was not as easy to answer as one might assume.
I did not, say, keel over (that is, turn my bottom over top) and die. But as I said, sometimes someone can poison your mind as well as just your body.
I knew I had what it took. My displays were perfect. My speech sounded unrehearsed and off-the-cuff and covered exactly everything I needed it to with no stuttering or humming or hawing. And the core product was sound. More than sound, it was brilliant and necessary.
But as I walked into that building – chin up, laptop bag in hand, looking like a million bucks and walking like I owned that place – I was secretly terrified. Five people had turned it down. Six of my friends had told me it was a long shot. Seven relatives had laughed in my face. To sum it up: I had been poisoned in my mind. I was ready, or I wanted to be ready, to make this presentation.
But was I ready? The doubts crowded onto the bus with me, shoved for a place in the elevator with me. I looked prepared. I looked proper. I looked prosperous. (Three more words that had no root in common, much to my surprise).
I was terrified.
I made my posture perfect. I smiled sweetly. I swallowed as if to bring more of that potion of poise into my body, into my mind.
I ran over all of my lines. I debated pertinent points sub-vocally. I told myself, once again, that my product was predestined to win this contact.
And in the back of my head, the poison continued to war with the potion. I was poised — but I was tainted by doubt. Two different sorts of weight were pulling at me.
The situation was grave, and it deserved gravity. Yet I found myself giggling. Here I was, pulling in two directions by the same thing — by a potion. By a great weight.
And that, my friends, was the lift I needed. The giggle, the laugh — the joke. By the time I left the elevator I had cut the strings weighing me to the criticism and doubt — if only temporarily, for those strings are very persistent — and I was buoyed up, walking on air, poised but yet no longer poisoned.
But had it even been poison? For if it had not been for that pun, I may not have been smiling, they might not have smiled, and the day might not have been won.
Funny things, potions and words, both.
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