Failing across mediums


By Marianne Walsh

Member of the Chicago Parent Blog Network

Due to the kind suggestion of former Chicago Parent blogger Cathy Adams, an amazing thing happened this past weekend. I was booked on Bill Moller's WGN morning radio show. The possibilities were endless! I could hype the upcoming book, Epic Mom, (available this December on! I could talk about the new Chicago Parent column, Failing with Gusto (appearing this January in the magazine)! I could share my rare form of misguided genius with the world! Or at least with all those who listen to talk radio at 10:15 a.m. on a Saturday. It was a marketing dream come true.

But then I remembered something. Something that went all the way back to 1993. Something so awful that I nearly blocked it out until now:

My complete and utter inability to speak publicly.

It occurred during my college days when I had to give a presentation on Shakespeare's Globe Theater. My eyes never left my notes. I rambled on at record pace. Then I got to the part about the big fire that destroyed the structure.

And here is where I got the giggles.

As I detailed the reasons for the blaze, the narrow exits, and all the hysteria involved, I couldn't control myself. I gasped for breath. I wiped away tears of laughter as I recounted a TRAGEDY. The harder I tried to pull it together, the worse it became. I was practically on the floor by the time I finished.

With the scheduled WGN appearance drawing closer, I attempted to get my recent bout of bronchitis under control. I had been hacking up a lung for the better part of two weeks. Disaster was imminent.

You'd assume I would cancel?

If so, you have mistaken me for someone with sound judgment. A couple of days prior to the interview, I spoke with Bill Moller over the phone. I tried to feel him out. I suggested maybe I'd down a couple shots of vodka in advance to help me relax.

Sadly, he strongly discouraged that.

Instead, I opted for the next best thing: NyQuil Cough.

By the time I arrived at the studio, I was really sleepy. My father (and favorite part-time chauffeur) nudged me awake and handed me the two dozen doughnuts I brought along to garner goodwill. Of course the guest prior to me was a well-known nutritionist and veggie lover.

The universe hates me.

Bill started out with a softball question. It might have been "What is your name?"

And that's when I blanked. I filled a good 20 seconds of revered WGN airspace with… well… AIR.

Bill tried again. He might have asked me "What is the name of your book?"

Same reaction.

By the time I finally got rolling despite my NyQuil-induced stupor, I was blithering on about my parenting techniques. I think I alluded to Jesus. And wire hangers. And how playdates suck.

Now if that doesn't win over the moms of Chicago, I don't know what will.

I suppose I should be grateful for yet another opportunity to publicly humiliate myself. I am starting to get really good at it. I'm thinking of turning pro.

So whenever you moms out there worry that everyone is watching and judging, please know that I am here for you.

Diverting attention.

Kids Eat Chicago

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