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PINE NUTS – Embarrassing Moment

September 1, 2023 | McAvoy Lane

During a recent interview, I was asked about my impending retirement from 35 years of pretending to be Mark Twain and was probed about embarrassing moments. That was propitious, as I had just experienced two embarrassing moments in the same day, which was above my average. I was to speak to a room full of California sign language folks at Harvey’s, at least I thought that’s who I was going to be seeing.

As I walked into Harvey’s I was greeted by a warmhearted lady who rushed over and gave me a hearty hug. Wanting to put a little sign language into my program I asked her if she could tell me how to say, “I (and I pointed to my eye) love (and I pointed to my heart) you (and I pointed to her.)

She looked at me like I had just escaped from the Tahoe insane asylum, then started laughing, and it occurred to me with great force, that I was somewhere out in left field. When she stopped laughing, she half-covered her mouth, and shared with me out of the other side of her mouth, “We make signs, billboard signs.”

So, no wonder she thought I had fallen in love with her at first sight, and wanted her to show me how I could tell her I loved her in sign language -embarrassing moment number one.

Moving right along, I entered their exhibit hall and became interested in a gentleman standing beneath a sign that indicated he was in the tombstone business. He looked like he had been carving tombstones for quite a while, as he had the most stone-serious face I ever saw on a man. Well, never being one to relinquish my first impulse, I walked over to that sober looking gentleman and professed, “I have a confession to make.”

“And what could that be?” he asked in a voice common to tombstoners and coroners.

“I must confess to you that I have no formal education. In truth, I am as unlettered as the backside of a tombstone.”

He stared at me with his stone-cold face, and uttered without the slightest hint of a smile, “That’s a good one.”

I wanted to ask him how much he would charge me to put, “I’d rather be in Philadelphia,” on my tombstone, but suspecting that he might not be any more receptive to W.C Fields than Mark Twain, I bit my lip, held my tongue, and let it slide.

There have been so many embarrassing moments in my wild ride as Mark Twain, too many to list here, but perhaps I shall write a book of some 300 pages someday to chronicle that amusing aspect of a gratifying career.

In closing I would ask that you consider Chautauqua as a pursuit for yourself. It will give you a second life, and one life is not enough. Bring history to life and live twice, you won’t regret it… 

Audio: https://anchor.fm/mcavoy-layne

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