You’ve got nothing on Maggie Fitzgerald.

I have one week of uni left. It’s surreal to visualise life without lectures, tutes or assignments. Since I found a place for my internship next year, there is a bit of security. But this doesn’t mean the rest of uni will be easy.

I had a debate assignment on Friday.

Tutorial #1: 13 days before debate

I know from the start I want Gmail Girl on my team. She’s smart. We’ve already had a whole semester of practicals and tutes together, so I know we get on pretty well. Gmail Girl turns and asks Hotmail Hellion if she wants to be in our group. I presume she based her invitation on previous interaction. We are the affirmative, so that is some consolation given our strong opposition. Our opposition is made up of the very people I wanted to avoid as competition. But they have already formed a group. We spend that first tute brainstorming points.

Tutorial #2/Out-of-Class-Meeting #1: 3 days before debate

Hotmail Hellion misses both the tutorial and meeting. Only the day after does she tell us – she’d been rostered on to work. Fine.

I organise the argument into 3 perspectives and suggest an overarching position. We put Hotmail Hellion as the third speaker, so all she’d have to do is summarise the arguments and rebut some points.

Out-of-Class Meeting #2: 1 day before debate

We meet up to look over speech points and make sure we have a unified argument. I read Hotmail Hellion’s points. She has new information. She’s not supposed to introduce new material as third speaker. It’s not strong. I cut two out of four paragraphs with Hotmail Hellion’s consent, after pointing out what was wrong with them. After an hour, she has to leave to go to work. Ok.

Gmail Girl and I cut our documents down. I reduce mine from 3 pages to 1 page. I summarise Gmail Girl’s argument and put it with my excess points; I have effectively written the speech for Hotmail Hellion. I add on three rhetorical questions, the perfect sucker-punch. Gmail Girl agrees, it’s the verbal equivalent of flipping our opponents the finger. It’s good.

I leave with optimism, and Gmail Girl promising to text Hotmail Hellion a reminder to dress nice.

Day of the Debate: Morning Before the Event

We agreed to arrive at 7:45am to practice. Gmail Girl is too nervous. That’s alright. I lean over to Hotmail Hellion. She says she couldn’t open the email I sent her. I have my Macbook with the speech document on it. (My handwriting turns into a scrawl under pressure.) She skims over it and says that a lot of what she has already covers it. I emphasise the strong ending that both Gmail Girl and I have agreed on. She nods. She isn’t writing any of it down.

I then notice she’s in casual wear. I made the offhanded comment, “That’s a colour you don’t see on sneakers every day.” She enthuses, “Oh! Yeah, I have another pair in orange.”

I no longer harbour any hope of winning.

Day of the Debate: The Main Event

Million Dollar Baby

Image via Wikipedia

Gmail Girl gets through most of her points, smoothly cuts out some material, summarises and links to my speech within time.

Negative Speaker 1 is… how shall I put this nicely, aggressive in her arguments. I type out, “See what I mean?” Gmail Girl nods with wide eyes and leans away from the podium. I can see the front row audience edging away from it as well.

I speak next. I’m nervous but manage to rebut the opposition, and finish my own points.

I can’t remember what Negative Speaker 2 says.

Hotmail Hellion steps up to the podium. She waffles on about her points, barely references my points in her summary… Whatever. What I’m looking for more importantly, does she give the old 1-2-1-2 I wrote for her? No, debate Million Dollar Baby she is not. I’m furious.

But not as furious as with the third speaker of the opposing team. Since when did anyone consider weight loss and smoking cessation to be disease states? And since the marking unit coordinator hadn’t specified against it, she couldn’t forbid his use of a poster. You muppet, no one uses props in a debate. That’s the whole point.

Day of the Debate: Break

We don’t speak to our opponents. They don’t speak to us. It’s a bit juvenile, really.

I say hello to the other marker, my tutor from last semester. She says my team was one of the strongest. She is surprised Hotmail Hellion had done as well as she did. She thinks I should have spoken last.

Her words breach the dam. I tell her all of it – how none if it went according to plan and all of it hit the fan. HONESTLY. What, do you need me to hold your hand? No? Then what is the problem?

The tutor says I’ll know better for next time. Then pauses, and says with a wry smile, “Well… there isn’t going to be a next time.”

Several other people come up to me and say that they were impressed with how calm I was after the negative first speaker. I guess I hid my nervousness well enough. That soothed some nerves.

Anyway. It’s done. It was 15%.

I still can’t imagine being done uni.

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