Last night, I had the opportunity to hear a speaker from out of town who might be the perfect stranger…you know, the friend you haven’t met yet. Jenn and I drove all the way to Ft. Worth to hear Ira Glass, host of “This American Life“, speak to a room containing every liberal-minded, Honda Element-driving, venti latte-sippin’ Texan known to exist. And believe it or not, it was more than a dozen!
His speech was interesting, and not just for the expected entertainment value that comes from a live reproduction of the wit and reverence heard on the airwaves. Mr. Glass was able to make all of us feel that we were engaged in a personal exchange between us and the speaker. And although I’ve heard moments like this many times on his show, I found the poignancy of certain parts of the talk to be truly edge-of-the-seat listening. I hate the fact that I waited so long to talk about this night (this post was completed over a week later), because specific examples escape me. And that reminds me of my eternal New Year’s resolution to stop being such a fucking flake…
During the course of the evening, as I heard advice and examples on how to present stories, I began to think about my own writings. This blog is an experience in story-telling for me — although, let’s be very honest…there’s precious little on this website that means jack to anyone besides myself and the people mentioned. And as much as a deride the typical blog, most of which are bulleted lists of what a person did and ate during the course of the day, my blog skirts the frontier between that extreme and something with a larger universal appeal like “TAL”. And I began to feel that my content was rather unworthy of the time and expense of publishing it electronically (in case you are wondering, this website costs me $40.00/year and never-ending nights of typing). My blog’s most important purpose is giving me some space to write…perhaps I will get around to completing that great American novel someday.
At the end of his musings, Mr. Glass briefly made himself available to entertain questions from the audience. Within a second, that trademark sly smirk came across my face. I leaned in close to my girlfriend and muttered, “I have a question.” Jenn, without much hesitation, took my hand, interlocked her fingers between mine, and proceeded to guarantee that we’ll get my question asked.
Ira Glass takes the first question. By “first”, I mean “first four” questions, as the opening querier did his best to ask every question he was ever going to ask for the rest of his life.
Next chance for a question — and Jenn and I fling up out of our seats! We sling our arms above our heads and bounce with that third-grade-like “Ooo! Ooo! Ooo!” that always seemed to get the teacher’s attention back in the day. Despite our attempts to draw as much attention to ourselves as possible, Ira picks a different victim.
Another question! A different person than me! Frustration mounts!
Then, after those three questions and an equal number of demonstrative displays on our part, Ira calls on us. Jenn lets go of my hand and snapped back into her seat…and it’s just me standing in front of thousands. And before I became too nervous, I started to ask my question — only to be interrupted by Mr. Glass, who has some questions himself for the two of us!
“Wait a minute,” he interjects. He directs his attention to Jenn. “You stood up so he could ask a question?” Giggles and tension mount all about, and he continues. “Are you two married?” “What does she get out of this?” Etc.
I finally got my question out — I wanted to know if Mr. Glass was interested in blogs, if he found any worthy comparisons between that medium and radio, and if he found room for improvement. Interestingly (and somewhat surprisingly), he was something of a fan of such sites…while he didn’t always have the opportunity to pursue them, he did equate their impact to an earlier statement he made about radio — radio succeeds because it enganges the imagination of the listener who most compensate for a lack of imagery, and that this focus lends itself to the dynamism within a one-person audience that the stories being broadcast to are being told directly and only to you.
The whole evening proved to be an interesting intersection of interests for me. Between sating my desire to interact with celebrities I admire and my appetite for time with the woman I love, I had a very fulfilling night. Jenn and I are running along an accelerated course, one that comes from two people in their 30s being in love, having a good idea of what they want, and not wanting to bullshit around too much before making a life together.
As the show let out, violent lightning could be seen through the convention center’s windows. Jenn and I briskly proceeded to Kilgore. As the rain began to come down in hot, large blobs, I pointed to an awning and boomed, “Go hang out under there. I’ll grab the truck and meet you there!” The air soon filled with the white noise of pounding precipitation…I ran hard, got to the car before becoming too soaked, and then drove forward to the awning. A short red light interrupted my path, but soon I pulled up…and Jenn was not there! I called her cell phone and received voicemail — her phone was off because of the performance! I began to panic, thinking I had lost my girlfriend in the slums of downtown Cowtown.
It was then looked to my right and saw one of the more pitiful yet hilarious sights in recent memory: outside my door was one water-soaked Jennifer, drenched down to her skin by the heavy rain.
I come to find out that when I told Jenn to hang out under the awning, she said something equivalent to, “Screw that!” and ran after me. My long legs outgunned her in getting to my truck Kilgore, and as she herself reached the vehicle, I drove off without knowing she was outside! Jenn screamed my name and ran after me…picture a beautiful, dripping-wet woman running down the middle of Commerce St. in high-soled sandals! And she almost caught up with me at that red light, only to watch me speed away when it turned green.
So Jenn was laughing her guts off when she clambered inside, and I was in classic profuse-apology-mode. And through the tears, we both agreed that this night’s tale was definitely going to be one for the grandkids. And we wouldn’t be surprised if that was true someday.
p.s. — by the way, in case you were wondering…flight. Definitely, flight.