A caption in the Jan. 31 Maryland Weekly mistakenly identified speech club member Dan Gerwin as David Gerwin.
Lend us your ear and we'll fill it with drivel.
So goes the credo of a club that embraces the dull, thrives on the absurd and rejoices in the point never made.
They call themselves the Boring Speech Club, a group of students from Charles E. Smith Jewish Day and Walt Whitman High schools who meet every Saturday at Beth -- El Synagogue in Bethesda to deliver discourses on nonsense.
The members -- usually a hardcore group of six -- assemble around noon to take attendance, listen to a treasurer's report (which seldom contains anything new) and give boring speeches on everything from the importance of sludge in America to the significance of lint -- that's right, the flakes found on dark clothing.
The club was founded in 1978, when David Gerwin, now 18, drew inspiration from a talk he gave at summer camp on the elements and technique of a boring speech.
"I just winged it," Gerwin said, thereby laying the cornerstone of the club's constitution: All speeches shall be extemporaneous.
Gerwin, who was graduated from the club last year when he went off to college, is the club's chairman of the Bored, and a member of Columbia University's "really boring" debate team.
"I can't stress enough the importance of a monotone delivery," Gerwin said. "You don't want your listeners getting excited. Drawing sensible parallels is also a no-no." And as for analogies, "make them as incoherent as possible," he noted.
Over the years the club has sworn in nearly 100 members, some of them parents, said Walt Whitman student Daniel Levin, 16, the current president. But only the hard core regularly attend meetings. And most of them are officers.
"It doesn't take much to become a member," "All you have to do is come into the room and sit down. Since nonmembers don't have voting rights, they have no say as to whether they become members."
True to their constitution, the speechmakers draw irrelevant conclusions. "Once, a speech was given on the dangers loose threads pose to civilization," Gerwin said. "It was marvelous. Just think, if everything unraveled at the seams, where would we be?"
As for demanding an explanation from the speechmaker, think twice. Logic and reason are considered tantamount to treason.
"If you're talking about the space shuttle and someone asks when the next one is going to be launched, he'll be penalized with one to five demerits," Levin said.
Demerits, issued for "sensible" rebuttals and for delinquency, are written into the constituition's bylaws. The president slaps five on members who are in the building, but fail to show up at the meeting, and one if the member is not at the meeting or in the building. After 100,000 demerits, members are suspended. After 1 million, they're expelled.
A couple of years ago Joel Gerwin, David's 14-year-old brother, threatened to form an "interesting speech club." The president was so infuriated that he socked him with 100,000 demerits, suspending Joel from the club for two months. Fortunately, the younger Gerwin was going off to camp for two months.
"We brought him over to our way of thinking," the elder Gerwin said. Joel, now in ninth grade, is the group's vice president.
Unlike most groups that invent ploys to keep financially afloat, the Boring Speech Club shuns money. "We didn't want any money in the treasury because for years it was a tradition that the treasurer, in his report, give all kinds of reasons why there wasn't any money, which was pretty boring stuff," Levin said.
So when the group decided to donate $60 to Children's Hospital, the treasurer went into a tailspin. Having money in the group's coffers was as welcome as President Reagan accepting a $100 billion defense cut.
Never denying a helping hand, however, the members turned to their parents. "Strictly a loan," Gerwin said. "We've paid it back -- all of it."