There is a first time for everything. While this is not the first time I’ve spoken to an elementary or middle grade class, it was the first time as an author. What a thrill! Mrs. Haggmark’s class of 5th and 6th graders, many of whom LOVE to write, shared the kind of stories they love to read and write and heard about my work. I passed along some tips on researching ideas and encouraged them to push through rewriting and to submit their own work. They inspired me!
A big thank you to Mrs. Haggmark and her class, and Librarian Mrs. Borden.
Driving back from the Central California SCBWI Writers Day yesterday, I recounted my most embarrassing moment to a travel companion. She howled with laughter, “That would make a great story!” Using the philosophy that it can’t be embarrassing if you own it and use it, here goes.
In late October of 1993, we checked into the newly opened Treasure Island Hotel and Casino for the wedding of a colleague of my husband. The actual ceremony took place across the street in a little chapel that disappeared when another behemoth hotel and casino went up in 2007. The reception was held in a cavernous banquet room in Treasure Island. Sitting in the sea of round tables, seating ten each, we waited for the bride and groom to appear. And we sat. Until I couldn’t hold off a trip to the ladies room any longer.
Now, I should explain something here. Due to some feet problems, I was wearing flats. Generally, I hate wearing flats because I’m vertically challenged to begin with, and feel short and squat, especially in crowds of tall people, which these all seemed to be. This was also the era of white pantyhose. I wore a pink skirt and jacket, with a white shell top, white hose and black flats. I looked like a dish of strawberry ice cream. In retrospect I shouldn’t have left the hotel room dressed that way, and the white shell was damp under the arms because even in late October, Las Vegas is too hot to be walking outside dressed like that.
So, I slipped off to the bathroom via a side door. When I returned, the hallway in front of the door was empty and only the soft music of the background track echoed in the hall. I opened the door to sneak back to my seat unseen. As I stepped into the ballroom, a spotlight flashed on and lit me up like a little pink Christmas tree, then the music began – Blue Suede Shoes I think. My face flushed a bright red and my eyes dropped to my white legs and black shoes.
They had been expecting an Elvis Impersonator, and instead two hundred or so sets of eyes stared and laughed at my small, startled figure. I could have died right there, but I gamely walked to my seat and sat down. My husband filled in the Elvis details as I tried to regain some sense of honor. I will always remember the panic that gripped my chest and forced the breath from my lungs when the spotlight hit me. I think today I could have managed a little soft shoe and a flourished “ta-da!”