From time to time, I’m asked to speak at service club meetings. Apparently they’re having a hard time finding good speakers.

Usually my presentations are about camping and canoeing, the only two things I actually know something about.

When the chairperson of the club’s entertainment committee calls to invite me to speak, I ask if there’s anything in particular they want me to talk about. The standard response is, "Just tell us about your canoe adventures."

My standard response is, "OK, I’m sure I can come up with something."

Then they usually say, "Can you let me know soon, so I can put it in our newsletter?"

Then I say, "Let me think about it."

And I do. For the next few days, I rack my brain trying to come up with something. But, as I root through my repertoire of canoe trip stories, I realize that some of them aren’t suitable for mixed company. Few of them, actually. In fact, some would offend audiences in dive bars and maximum security prisons.

So, I usually settle on a generic topic. Something along the lines of "Everything You Never Wanted to Know About Winter Canoe Camping." Or "How to Not Start a Fire by Rubbing Two Sticks Together."

No matter what I end up talking about, all my talks have one thing in common; they never ask me to come back and speak a second time.

Editor’s note: It so happens that Irv is scheduled today, May 7 to give a talk — via Zoom — to the Loudonville Rotary Club. As of press time, he still hadn’t come up with a topic.

— Irv Oslin, a retired Times-Gazette reporter, is a canoe and outdoors enthusiast.