Cultural Seminar

I got my first whiff of fame after a story I wrote was published in an international magazine. And like Dr. Hook sang, I bought five copies for my mother. Better still, a complete stranger recognized me and suddenly my poop didn’t stink. But the aura of Febreze quickly wore off.

I race motorcycles at the Bonneville Salt Flats. I actually set a record in my class. It was uncontested and I won it by being the first guy to show up in that category, but history will only know that I once held the AMA Land Speed Record in the 250 MPS-PG class. The next season, as I was waiting in line to run, an attractive young blond from Sweden approached me. She had a copy of the racer’s yearbook and asked if I would autograph my picture. I was happy to do my part for international relations and signed it with great flourish. Then she went to the next racer, and the next, on down the line. It was nice but a bit crowded to be put on a pedestal with a hundred other men and women by a bored cutie just trying to pass the time. How many racers can dance on the head of a pin? One less, I lost the record.

Then I wrote my book, “My Paradise Lost.” It’s a soul baring, warts and all coming of age memoir set in the exotic Panama Canal. I spoke openly of the most trying times of my youth, of danger, conflict, lost love, and death. My wife liked the angst; my English professor thought it was insightful. I anxiously monitored my book’s Amazon page for those elusive reader reviews. Much to my sophisticated chagrin, early returns said, “This book is hilarious.” – DRS, and “I laughed out loud.” – BK. I wondered, “Whose book did they read?”

Well, at least if you write a book people think you know what you are talking about and I was invited to be a guest speaker at the Panama Canal Society’s Cultural Seminar. Methinks that’s quite an endorsement even if I did have the backing of the group’s president, my old next door neighbor. Nepotism aside, I’d never seen my name and the word, ‘cultural’ in the same sentence. Better still, when I showed up at the Orlando resort hotel, I was confronted by the spittin’ image of me. To promote the event the PCS had made a movie-like poster of yours truly. My ego was all, “Made it, Ma! Top o’ the world!” (Apologies to James Cagney) I still have the poster; rescued it from the trash.

Now, a year later, I’m going to the same PCS event and I have to pay for the privilege to sell my book like any other vendor. Someone once said that a person is famous when they do an ordinary thing and it makes headlines. “Paris Hilton empties own trash.” Being fame-ish, it’s more like, “Quit picking in the trash.”


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