I’m not losing my mind. I know this because I tell myself I’m not losing my mind. Anyone who thinks he’s not losing his mind and thinks otherwise is out of his mind . . . but . . . .sometimes I wonder. Three times in a single day I was stopped by a kind reader saying that he or she had enjoyed what I’d written in The Source. No, this isn’t blatant promotion, it’s just a small town and you tend to run into people a lot. The lady at the Soap Company Coffee Shop stopped sipping long enough to say, “Your article in The Source? I agree with you completely.” All of which would have been just dandy if I’d had the slightest idea what article she was referring to. I usually try to fake my way out of these things and say, “Hey! Thanks! Glad you enjoyed it!” and hope that I can escape with betraying my lack of memory. In my defense I often submit columns to this paper more than a month in advance of the publication date and therefore I’m not sure which story they mean. At least I use this as an excuse. What really gets me in trouble is when the reader says, “But what happened after that?” Okay, now I’m stumped. I’m cornered.
The second embarrassment of the day came as I got out of my car in the Shopko parking lot and a lady actually took my warm and walked into the store with me. Either she was an avid reader of The Source or she thought I was limping. “Did you ever get that possum?” For the life of me I couldn’t think what in the world she was talking about. “Excuse me?” She looked at me as if I should know: “The possum. Did you catch him?” You’ve got to cut me a little slack here. How many of you could answer questions about your possum out of the blue in the middle of the Shopko parking lot? It finally hit me that I’d written something about a possum that’s taken up residence in my basement and I could finish our conversation with some degree of intelligence before we arrived at the pharmacy where she’d be listening closely for me to submit my prescription for dementia medicine.
The third instance came that night at the Playhouse Theatre when a lady cornered me after the show and said, “Did all that really happen?” Okay, you’ve got to cut me some slack here. She’d just seen a script of mine about a group of Texas ladies who run a café that’s about to be put out of business by a Hooters across the street and whose mother has hijacked a truck load of hogs. So I said, “No, not really.” She looked at me and said, “I never know whether what you write in The Source is true or not.” Huh? Huh? Huh?
But perhaps the most uncomfortable confrontation came one recent afternoon when a lady stopped me in front of Our Town Books and asked what I’d done on my honeymoon. Now this was right out of left field. Was she taking a survey? I doubted that since she works at Farmers Bank and I don’t think Joy Becker much cares what I did on my honeymoon. Of course all this confusion was coupled with the fact that I’m not nor have I ever been married. So for once I acted honestly stupid and said, “What honeymoon?” She looked me straight in the face and said, “The one you write about in the paper.” My mind reeled trying to think of what column could have possibly alluded to matrimony. I certainly didn’t propose to the possum. I gave up. “What column are you talking about?” I always hate using this answer since it implies that A) I don’t write the truth in my articles or B) I don’t read them. She went on to recite in detail how my wife and I ordered pizza on every anniversary to celebrate our first pizza eaten in a hotel room on our honeymoon. I’m glad I was standing in front of the bookstore and it finally came to me. I may not read my own columns but I always read those of Andy Mitchell, the store’s owner. It finally dawned on me, I explained the real authorship, she then remembered correctly and we both laughed. Andy was inside sitting at his desk and would have been perhaps embarrassed to know that the subject of our laughter was his honeymoon.
You’d think that after spending almost fifty years in theatre that I’d be me adept at faking it, but such is not the case. I need a script. . . preferably one I didn’t write so I can remember it.