I've had this Regina Spektor song stuck in my head all week, ever since I was on the radio.
That's right. I was on the radio. The BBC kind of radio no less. It all started when I wrote this post, proclaiming my very unpopular opinion regarding whether or not Amazon should sell The Pedophile's Guide to Love and Pleasure. The next morning there was an email from the BBC show, "World Have Your Say," requesting an interview.
Of course I wanted to be interviewed by any show on the BBC because, you know, IT'S THE BBC. But the thing with the radio is that people listen to it. People all over the world. And I would say things, and those people all over the world would hear my things. That's how it works, this radio thing. People would hear me!
And it occurred to me that I do that a lot. I falter. I let opportunities pass me by because I'm afraid of them, or because I think I'm not quite prepared for them. I'm a perfectionist, and I insist on shying away from things that are a little beyond my control lest some small vulnerability, even the tiniest of flaws, be exposed. I scolded myself for being such a sissy, marched over to my computer, and shot of a reply confirming my acceptance of their interview offer.
But I faltered.
By the time I sent the email, the show was already in progress and I knew it was too late. Furious with myself, I vowed to stop being such a pansy. Next time, I promised myself. Next time.
As it turns out, "next time" was the next day. I received a follow up email saying that they hadn't discussed the topic as planned, but were going to revisit it the next day. I was asked, again, to participate.
I did not falter. I sent my contact information and anxiously waited for morning to arrive.
Arrive it did. And call, the BBC did. But they happened to be called while I was walking my son to school, and so all I was left with was a voice mail from a lovely sounding British man. Genuinely disappointed, and not at all relieved to have been spared a nerve-wracking situation, I tuned in to listen to the show that almost included me.
I listened to the introductions with each guest's blog being plugged. I listened to the first two women to speak. Both were well-spoken; neither appeared nervous. And then some relief began to set in. Surely I would not have sounded so well put together. But the next couple people who spoke were far less organized. "I missed the phone call," I angrily typed at The Man. "And I'm far better spoken that two of the panel."
A little arrogant, perhaps. Sure, I'm fairly well spoken under normal circumstances. But how would I sound if I knew people all over the world! were listening?
And then, suddenly, the phone rang. I answered hopefully, nervously... and found myself speaking to a lovely sounding British woman. After confirming that I still wanted to talk, she briskly ushered me through a sound check. I failed. My phone started beeping. The battery was dying. "We'll call back!" she declared. "Find a different phone!" I went tearing through the house in search of another handset. They're always wandering off, those things. I found another, also with a dying battery, and - with the phone now ringing again - tore through the rest of the house desperately searching for our third and final handset.
"Hello!" I shouted, breathless, at the woman. "Hello! I'm here! I found a phone! Actually I found two! But the other one had a dead battery too! And I..." I wouldn't continued to shout the entire ordeal had the woman not cut me off.
"Just listen to the show," she instructed. "We'll be with you momentarily. Listen for your name, and then speak. After that, feel free to interject yourself into the conversation at any time. Okay? Are you ready?"
I'm pretty sure my response was something along the lines of "gyah," but it must've sounded enough like "yeah" because she pushed me through to the show. I frantically began scribbling notes - the names of the other guests and their positions, what points had already been covered and by whom - and desperately tried to remember my own position. Nerves already rattled, I had to re-read my own post to recall the finer points of my opinion. Radio people kept cutting into the phone line to tell me "it won't be long," and "we'll be with you any minute," and "listen for your name!"
And then a man called in who, eventually, self-identified as a pedophile. The conversation got a little intense. My note-taking stopped so that I could focus all my attention on a single thought: Please don't make me follow the pedophile. Please don't make me follow the pedophile. Please don't make me follow the pedophile.
Because, I'll be quite frank, I was nervous enough without needing to come up with a proper segue to follow that conversation.
Luckily, the host managed the segue and queued it over to Paul Constant from The Stranger's blog, The Slog (see his post on the controversy here). I was so full of relief that I forgot to pay attention to the conversation and, suddenly finding it my turn to speak, prattled on about free speech and nonfiction until the host kindly removed the talking stick from my startled fist.
You can hear the show here. I don't come in until about minute 35 (Kellee in Seattle), but you should give the whole thing a listen as the people who came before me are more worth your time.
3 Fish Studios
15 hours ago