I told you how I made a complete asshat of myself by yelling at an old lady in a wheelchair.
And until last night, that was really the only person, in 18 years of touring, that I could ever consider a heckler. Until last night — but more about that later...
So a couple of years pass, and I've gotten over the fact that I'm a horrible human being for yelling at an old lady in a wheelchair, even if her hat was clearly stupid, which it was.
And I'm in San Francisco when Terry Pratchett is coming to town to promote his new book. And I've had the same editor as Terry for years, but we've never met. But in talking to my editor, she says, you should go by the event and say hi. He'd love to meet you. So I did.
So I'm sitting in a good-sized crowd with my lovely and talented wife-like girlfriend Chuck (yes, she was a girl we called Chuck long before Pushing Daisies — R.I.P.), and Terry gets up and starts to speak. But before he gets three words out, someone behind us yells, "Speak up, you're mumbling."
And Terry is visibly shaken, and he was also not mumbling. In fact, he was enunciating quite clearly. But he begins again, and two sentences in, someone yells, "Would you speak up?! You're talking into your chest!"
Which he wasn't. He was speaking clearly and powerfully into the microphone.
And I bend over and whisper to Chuck, "It's like that old lady in the hat at Yerba Buena."
And Chuck looks back. Then turns around and says, "It is."
And I'm all, "OMFGEIGHTPOUNDBABYJESUSONAPOGOSTICK WHAT?" And I turn around, and it's her: the old lady in the stupid cowboy hat who sapped my public-speaking confidence. But this time I know three things: 1) Terry was not mumbling; 2) the yelling is coming from an old lady in a wheelchair; and 3) I could probably take her.
But I didn't. I took the example of my British colleague in letters, and gallantly buggered on, ignoring the malevolent mechanized hag altogether.
No wonder Terry is the best-selling author in the U.K.
That said, I'm doing an event in the Bay Area next month. And Hat Lady, let it be known, I'm coming for you.
Oh, no, I won't roll you down the steps like Richard Widmark in that noir film where he rolls the old lady down the steps, no matter how much you may deserve it. But I have one of those portable air horns. Those ones that can be heard from miles away. And when you least expect it, when you're sitting there, warming up your raspy pipes to shout, "You're mumbling!" I will sneak up behind you, and you WILL hear my message. You may not walk again, but you will stand. Oh, yes. You will stand up.
Mumble that, Grandma.