Adrenaline Rush: Debate

October 21, 2011
My opponent walks to the podium.

He asks if everyone’s ready. My heart tenses, each muscle in my chest tightens. My legs begin to shake. I yawn, partly because I woke up dark and early, partly because my body is scraping for some way to relieve the tension mounting within me. I say I’m ready, holding my pen firmly in an iron grip. I’m a debater, and this is how my favorite days begin.

I walk into the room, dressed in my uniform consisting of a black, three-buttoned suit, a white-and-red striped tie with a half Windsor knot, and a white shirt monogrammed on the cuffs, held together by two circular black cufflinks. At my side is a black leather folder, in which is a legal pad, a blue G2 Pilot pen, and two prewritten speeches. Game-time.

The judge nods, and the round begins. During this time, I just try to focus. So, I breathe deeply until my heartbeat steadies, and by that time, I write all my opponent’s definitions, value, and criterion. What’s wrong with them? Ah, they’re weak, and I know why. By this time, I’m in the zone. His voice drones, on, but all I can hear is my argument falling into place. Ah, I can ask this question. He’ll answer with this, and if he answers this way, his case crumbles. He finishes. I wait.

The judge asks monotonously if I’m ready for cross-x. My pen and legal pad are ready. I look straight at the judge with a smile, because I recognize the power I have right now. Cross-x is when people cry. Cross-x is when cases fall. Cross-x is when I can wring out all hope of victory from my opponent. I lose my smile and get serious.

Like the hunt, my opponent and I watch each other’s every move. I have criss-crossed the savannah with an array of traps, just waiting to snap. Cross-x ends, and I thank my opponent. With all my clashes ready, I stand up for my speech. I relax for a few minutes while I read my prepared speech. Then, I snap into action when I read the words, “I’ll now deconstruct my opponent’s case.”

I have no mercy. His case is like a gazelle. Most debaters would use a rifle to take down the animal. I don’t take down the animal. I make the animal mine. I lead my opponent’s argument, take it under my wing, and show how it supports and helps my own case. And finally, before my opponent can rescue his wounded case, I put it out of its misery. The judge agrees. I win.

Then, the hunt is over. The intense energy suddenly evaporates. We return to normalcy, to the ritual. Yet, when I leave the room, smiling all the way, I jump up and click my heels. I feel complete. I heave a contented sigh as I gaze into the bright, midmorning light shining through the window.

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