My pleasure to present

Every person’s life is worthy of a book. I hope you are writing yours, or saving and collecting the material to one day write it.
I am in the midst of mine.
For those of you who just tuned in, this is the next installment of my memoirs currently in production. The previous installments are available on my web page I hope you find it interesting.
The book is titled, Live Long*, Learn a Little, Laugh a Lot.

In the “Live Long*” part of the book we jumped from one memory to the next in more or less chronological order. My hope is that I have planned and lived generally with a long perspective. Now I’d like to look back with the focus of the second part of the title, “Learn a little.” Most everything I have learned came through some kind of situation, not always breathtaking, sometimes boring, but couched in some setting. The experiences brought not many epiphanies, and not always happy endings, but often a fact or lesson worth adding to my modest store of knowledge, and maybe even a little wisdom. Including…
* In perspective

Learn a Little

My pleasure to present

“It is now my pleasure to present…,” said the man at the microphone. Hands throughout the auditorium were poised to applaud. The president of a nationwide network of motels was about to announce a program to build dinner theaters at the motels. For the thespians and performers including The Three D’s gathered in company headquarters in Memphis Tennessee, the circuit might be the greatest opportunity since Vaudeville.

The announcer uttered the president’s name. The welcoming applause was predictably thunderous from an audience with so much self interest at stake. The sound crescendoed to its peak, struggled then slipped as hands grew weary of clapping, whistling lips dried, and enthusiasm seeped away.

Meanwhile his Excellency the president ambled toward the microphone arriving several seconds after silence had replaced the jubilation. Disappointment sagged over the smiles on the faces of the audience members, all of whom considered themselves experts in stage technique. Across the table I heard one potential starlet of the circuit say to another, “He just doesn’t get it.” Her companion nodded.

What they accurately predicted was that any person who didn’t ride in on the applause of his or her introduction and use it as a launching pad didn’t know bean one about show business. Not a good omen for the proposed theater circuit. Unsurprisingly the project never got off the ground. It was like asking a garden club president to race stock cars.

“You only get one chance to make a first impression,” as the saying goes. On stage, the opening curtain is your chance to soar or face plant. Start off right and you are halfway to a standing ovation. Stumble, and immediately feel the flop sweat begin to seep into your shoes.

Sometimes the deck is so stacked against you it’s like having a hangman for master of ceremonies. I once performed for a national organization of university educators. Like many intellectuals, they considered the expanding world population a curse on the future of the earth.

The mc meant well. He laid on the usual accolades, but finished with, “And he is the father of fifteen children.” I felt like a Christian being introduced in the coliseum by Nero. The silence was deafening. The stony faces and smattering of applause told me I was a ham sandwich in a synagogue.

Introductions on stage are different only in degree from personal introductions. Thoughtfully done an introduction is a smooth invitation to share each others worlds for awhile. If we are introducing someone to another person or small group, we might consider beforehand the good things we know about that person, and particularly those things that might link him or her into the group. Introducing ourselves is a bit different. We obviously don’t want to open with a list of our accomplishments, but a word or two about who we are is certainly appropriate.

On stage or at a podium or pulpit it is expected that we will deliver the presentation we have prepared. People would be confused if we immediately asked for questions from the audience or launched into a sing along.
But in private introductions I have found that after a brief statement of my identity, the best thing I can do is listen. If the other person doesn’t fill the silence with his own opinions or observations, a non threatening sincere question may break the ice.

The mechanics are also important, a smile, firm handshake, and eye contact, almost always open doors to communication. I have a pet peeve about people who want to dominate an introduction. A university president I met a few times was known for his hand shaking style. Particularly if you were taller than he, which many people were, he would grab your hand and pull you off balance to let you know up front who was in charge of the conversation. I admired the man as a mover and a shaker. He didn’t need to try to intimidate me with hand shaking theatrics. I have a friend who instead of pressing palms grasps just the fingers of your hand and crushes them to one up you. An introduction should be an invitation to discourse, not a call to arms with verbal light sabers.

The Three D’s received many introductions over the years. Some were grandiose, some simple. My favorite intro of all time was from a scout leader introducing us at a Jamboree. He said, “Boys, we have a real treat for you tonight. The Three D’s will entertain us. And I want to tell you. I would sooner hear these guys sing than eat. (pause) Because I have heard them eat.”

“Welcome The Three D’s.”

What do you think about this part of the book?
Everybody I know is busy, including me. Where are those golden years I was planning on of sitting on the back porch picking my guitar? So I will send just one little part of the book at a time. You can give it a quick read and tell me what you think if you would like.
I’ve slimmed that process down to two questions, and four strokes on the key board (six if you count “Reply” and “Send.”)
The questions are these:
“A” How much did you enjoy this?
“B” How much do you think a person who doesn’t know Duane Hiatt would enjoy this?
The rating is:
1. Glanced at it, printed it out and lined the bottom of the bird cage with it.
2. Sped-read it and filed it with my tax return receipts
3. Thought it was about as interesting as a well written obituary
4. Could have put it down, but didn’t want to
5. Couldn’t put it down. Put it in a magnetic frame and stuck it onto the fridge door
So your response would perhaps be A-4, B-3, (Or maybe A-5, B-5, but since that that would probably be from my mother and she has passed away, I’m expecting a minimum number of those.)
Also feel free to add comments if you like.
Also, also, feel free to forward this material to anyone you want to.