Public Speaking

When I was a little girl, up till my mid 20’s, I was shy. No just your typical “shy girl” shy, more like, ” Okay, what the heck is wrong with this girl who will not talk?”

It is not as if I had some kind of traumatic experience that stole my voice or anything. I was just wired that way. I was afraid to talk to anyone and everyone. The cashier at the grocery store, the mechanic, the faceless voice over the phone who would always call trying to sell me something. I was abnormally shy.

When I was about 15, my dad took me to a local high school where Montel Williams was speaking. A few important facts,

* I am not sure how my dads job and Montel Williams’  somehow incorporated and brought us together that brisk fall day at a high school that I did not even attend in Virginia Beach, VA…….but it did.

* My dad introduced me to Montel Williams, I stumbled out a “hello” shook his hand, begrudgingly, and that was it.

* Montel Williams was speaking about the dangers of drugs.

* My parents thought I was doing drugs.

* I was not doing drugs.

So now that you are up to speed, I will proceed.

During the assembly with our new friend Montel, there was a part in there where he called a few students up to the stage to ask us questions about drugs. I clearly remember his eyes on me as I am scooting down in my seat, pretending I dropped my purse begging and pleading with God for him to not call my name. I even promised  I will go to church for the rest of my life, I will marry a pastor just please do not call my name. 

He called my name.

Just shoot me now!

I slowly and awkwardly made my way to the stage, even though I was sitting in the front row. I gave my dad “the look.” Hoping that he would get a clue that the last thing I want to do right now is go on stage. My dad sat there with a big ole smile on his face that I interpreted one of two ways.

“Go on Jen, this will be fun.”


“Haha sucker, this is what you get for doing drugs.”

If you know my dad, he was most likely thinking the latter.

As soon as I get to the stage, Montel throws the microphone in my face and asks “What’s your name?”

I froze. And by froze I mean I stepped away from the microphone, looked down, made no eye contact and with the faintest of whispers, replied with “Jennifer.”

Montel sent me back to my seat, probably believing I was indeed on drugs.

I will say this, this experience drove me to wanting to do drugs. And, I really do not think anyone would have blamed me if I had done drugs, but I remained a good girl and never did drugs.

However, I did have my first kid at 19, so there’s that.

A few months after THE INCIDENT, my father wrote a play for the teens to do at church. To this day, I have no idea how this happened, but I was the lead, and, if I do say so myself, I totally rocked it. I loved being up on stage “acting.” I never felt more alive. I was also good at it, like seriously good at it.

Today, if the same incident were to happen, not only would I be able to go up to Montel, confidently taking the microphone, telling him my name and entire life story. He would be lucky if he got the mic back.

Funny how times change.

I never got into the acting thing, because I was doing the whole mom thing.

Now a days I am one of those people who holds up the line at the grocery store while chatting with the cashier. The car mechanics, I put them in their place real quick if I feel they are taking advantage of me, and the Montel Williams incident is long in the past,

but I never did watch his show,

nor will I.


* This post was inspired by Mama Kat’s Writers Workshop. Just click the link below if you want to join in.


5 thoughts on “Public Speaking

  1. That’s a great story! I’m terrible for talking too much – sometimes I wish I was just a little bit shy! Great that you feel more confident now – and well done for not doing drugs 😉

  2. Oh my gosh, so much second hand embarrassment going on for you right now. MONTEL WILLIAMS!?! I would have died. I love that you eventually thanked your father for his trust in your decision making skills by making him a grandfather. lol

  3. You need to write a part 2 to this story if you have not already. What changed. How did you go from being super shy to the girl who always seems to be ahead of me in line at Target or the Supermarket???

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