Wednesday, May 18, 2016

A new first time

Introducing ones self to a group of strangers is always awkward, no matter how clever you are. And I'm not very clever, but rest assured that I am a real person, despite allusions to the contrary, and not a figment of anyone's imagination. The hard work of introduction was already done for me in a previous post and expectations were set intimidatingly high, so it's probably past time for me to contribute something. 

I had no intention, when I volunteered my services as a grammar nazi, of being recruited for actual material. But once the invitation was extended, I couldn't resist. In a past life, I wrote every day. It was therapy and expression and entertainment all rolled into one and I loved it. But then I got a real job and a real life and got distracted by them. So it has been a long time since I was in the habit of gathering and storing up ideas to write about. But like a fat squirrel hiding nuts for winter, I'm hopeful that the instinct will come back to me. Ideas for poetry have always seemed the easiest. One image or a single idea can get you through a whole sonnet. And you only need half of an idea for anything shorter than that. I've written some truly terribly poetry in my time, but I maintain that the ideas were good. And ideas for fiction are pretty simple too. Just make something up and run with it as far as it takes you. None of this guarantees that the end result will be worth reading, of course. It only means that something does get written. I've never written anything like a blog, so my apologies in advance if my contributions bring down  the atmosphere of this establishment. If I wait for a good idea to strike, we'll all be a thousand years old before I write anything. So I'm just going to tell a story and let you decide if it's any good.

When I graduated from high school, to have called me a nerd would have been understating things dramatically. I made Anthony Michael Hall look worldly and sophisticated. And in the course of my sometimes-painful nerd trajectory, the July before I went to college, I was awarded a trip to Arizona for super-geek summer camp called The American Academy of Achievement. It was a week of lectures and seminars given by speakers who had supposedly accomplished something noteworthy. Most of the other participants skipped the speakers and sat by the pool sipping fruity drinks. But I was a geek among geeks and never missed a lecture. The guest list was a little bizarre in retrospect... Who thought it was a good idea to put Laurin Hill and several five star generals on the same agenda? I don't remember much about any of the speakers except that one spilled his coffee all over the podium. However, on the last night, there was a banquet. We all got dressed up and had assigned seats at fancy tables. There was a speaker, of course, and some other presentations to conclude the week. When I finally found my assigned seat, I remember glancing around and the names to the right and left of mine. The name card next to mine read "James Earl Jones." I looked frantically around to see if there had been some mistake, but sure enough, he was walking towards his seat. He was instantly recognizable, if heavier than I'd seen him in movies, and he was breathing hard when he sat down. I introduced myself when he did, but I didn't have the nerve for much conversation. Mostly i just listened to his voice as he spoke to other people. It's been a long time, but I specifically remember what it sounded like when he laughed... That deep, warm chuckle that I've heard so many times in movies but sitting right next to me. When the dinner was over and everyone said good night, he shook my hand and said, "It's been my pleasure, Lucky." Now this blog is semi-anonymous, but my name is not Lucky. Not even close. I'm not sure how he came up with that, but I didn't have the heart to correct him. So I just said "Goodnight, sir." and went on my way. But now when I need encouragement on a particularly shit day, I just remind myself that James Earl Jones thinks my name is Lucky.

And if you say so, Mr. Jones, it must be true.

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