Rumors of my public speaking were greatly exaggerated

As it turns out I was not asked to address remarks at the fancy luncheon. Nor did anyone feel the need to address any remarks to me. A very dear colleague was seated to my right, but she was in deep conversation with the person to her right. To my left was the prominent back of a prominent local figure. Across the table, two older businessmen assiduously avoided eye contact — I don?t blame them, the name of my firm (printed on my name tag) makes it sound as if we?re in plumbing supplies.

And oh the name tag! It was a curse. For the occasion I had worn a cornflower-blue Old Navy shirt (over the red-sequined baton-twirler?s top, of course) with slacks. The shirt is made of a strange stretchy material, and I like it very much because a) it matches my eyes; and b) I am pretty sure it?s flame-repellent. It is also cheap and it chose this luncheon as the appropriate venue to trumpet that fact all around. There, among the Louis Vuitton bags and the $400 highlights and the diamond-encrusted anniversary rings, the shirt kept releasing my name tag, expunging it from my chest with a sigh, till I was forced to conclude that the name tag has not yet been made that will adhere to strange stretchy material from Old Navy.

Yet if fire had broken out, I might have rolled through the flames unscathed. I kept wishing fire would break out so I could show everyone.


You might want to subscribe to my free Substack newsletter, Ancestor Trouble, if the name makes intuitive sense to you.