I was approached by a friend at a local restaurant recently who had a question regarding the subject matter I write about. His question, posed with the greatest sincerity and concern was, “Did you really do the things you write about?”
With tremendous pride I answered, “Yes I did!” This time with an even greater display of concern in his voice he responded, “Wow, you are really stupid.”
Wishing to find an appropriate response to his response, all I could muster up was, “Yeah, sometimes I guess I really am. But doesn’t it make for entertaining reading?” My friend walked away shaking his head in disappointment. I never really worried much about me until then.
I know authors who can effortlessly weave webs of enchantment based on nothing more than imagination. At least for now, I find my comfort zone in relating an experience, or a series of experiences. These are things that, perhaps, you could make up, but why would you? At least I am telling on myself and not on someone else, which is probably a safe choice.
Not everything in my life has been silly or mindless, but those incidents certainly get a chuckle. For example, I worked for a radio station in Cincinnati that was doing a promotion with the “Holiday on Ice” show at the Cincinnati Gardens. As promotional partners, the on-air personalities were to skate, yes, I said skate around the arena prior to the main performance and hand out station window stickers and discount coupons from some of our sponsors. It was a way for our listeners to put a face to the voices and for us to simply garner a closer relationship with our audience.
Only about two of our on-air people had ever worn skates, and I wasn’t one of them. We were given about a 10-minute tutorial from an expert who promised that if we follow his instructions, we shouldn’t (operative word here) break an ankle or wrist.
It would have been a wonderful promotion if the organizers had given any prethought to putting 10 people on the ice with no knowledge of how to stand up on blades, much less move in a graceful forward motion around the arena. The two who were experienced skaters moved with grace and ease. The rest of us sounded like escapees from a daycare center. The cries and whimpers were down-right embarrassing.
We were wide-eyed, arms flailing in the air for imaginary anything to grab onto, and once we made it to a wall to hold on, we had nothing to hand our audience because we had thrown it into the air trying to maintain balance across the ice. It was almost as bad as the WKRP Great Turkey Promotion, where all the turkeys plummeted to the ground after being tossed from a helicopter. It was bad.
After a few minutes, I had gotten to the point I could stay in an upright position and move forward, propelling myself with one leg. Not pretty, but functional. As our portion of the show mercifully came to an end, we skated off the arena and out of sight, through the curtains and onto concrete where we could part with those dreadful skates. It sounded like a great plan; however, no one bothered to mention that the curtain we would be skating through was weighted down with a 4 by 4 piece of wood. The shorter guys skated underneath with no problem. The curtain and the 4 by 4 hit me about the forehead, and my feet flew out from beneath me, and everything about me slammed to the hard concrete below. I didn’t realize it though, because fortunately the piece of wood in the curtain knocked me out for a minute or two, and I only got to enjoy the after-effects from the fall – and those stayed with me for days to come.
Years later I attempted to ice skate again, but somewhere in the back of my mind came images of that ill-fated performance at the Cincinnati Gardens, and wisdom, prevailed. I quickly removed the skates and put my boots back on.
If you live long enough, you will find events in your past that make for interesting short stories. However, please don’t try these stunts on your own. I am a trained professional. Yeah, right.
Herb Day is a longtime local radio personality and singer-musician. He can be heard Tuesday mornings from 8 a.m. to noon on 88.7 WOBO-FM, and can be reached at [email protected]