There are not many things the Colonel loves better than an audience. Despite his social introversion, one of the Colonel's gifts is public speaking.
Gifts and talents are two different things and it took a lot of practice to develop this particular gift into a talent.
The first public speech the Colonel ever gave was part of his long-shot campaign for junior high student body president. It was a horrendous flop, as was his entire campaign.
The Colonel had rehearsed for days, and, like a true politician, had inserted positions and promises aimed at pleasing the greatest number of voters. He had worked out each pause and hand gesture, and, in front of his mirror, was the most polished and Kennedyesque (right down to the Bobby Kennedy hand-through-the-hair move) candidate in the race.
In front of an assembly of his classmates, the Colonel mounted the stage in bell-bottoms and hang-ten shirt, flipped his hair out of his eyes, and looked out over a sea of pimpled faces and braced teeth.
It was the most frightening sight he had ever seen.
It was so quiet by the time the Colonel got to the podium, that the squeal of sweat squeaking out of his pores was audible to the bee-hive coiffed teachers in the back row of the auditorium.
The Colonel's heart was pounding so loud, the band teacher was looking around the room to find the percussion prodigy.
The Colonel's speech notes called for a grand sweeping wave gesture, a pause for the applause to die down, and a smile and finger-point to friends in the audience.
From behind the podium, the Colonel shot his hand in the air and then retracted it like an over-eager student who realizes too late that he doesn't know the answer.
A titter of giggles broke the silence, but the Colonel couldn't see who was laughing because he couldn't see over the podium.
"Step up onto the booster step, Mr. Gregory," a teacher commanded loudly -- evoking a round of tittering.
When the Colonel stepped up on the booster and poked his head into audience view the giggling increased and then subsided at the collective "SHHHHH" from the teachers in the back row.
Grateful for the end of the giggling, the Colonel suddenly realized that he was going to have to delete the issue portion of his speech dealing with banning teachers' "SHHHHH."
The Colonel began frantically sorting his 3 x 5 note cards to cull the one dealing with the dreaded "SHHHHH" issue and in the process so jumbled his speech that he actually began with: "So, in conclusion..."
Out of several hundred votes cast the next day, the Colonel got several. The worst part was when the Colonel compared his paltry vote tally to his paltry number of friends.
You guessed it, less votes than friends.
Just as well the Colonel didn't win -- his dad got orders later that spring and the Colonel was in another school the next fall.