If you have been reading my blog, you know by now that I often write about embarrassing moments. It seems that I have plenty of them. This event, even though it has nothing to do with Kennedy's Disease, was another one of those "life's most embarrassing moments" for me. It took place about eighteen years ago.
On the last evening of a managers' meeting in Seattle, we had a group dinner. Eight managers from different regions of the country were assigned to each table. During dinner, Rosemary, our new products development manager, started telling us about a great book she had just finished. Paul, our Coated Paper mill manager mentioned he had just finished reading it also. They talked about this book for fifteen minutes during dinner.
While at the airport waiting for my departure, I walked through the gift shop and happened to see the book for sale. Intrigued from the conversation the previous evening and knowing I had a six-hour flight ahead of me, I bought it (something I would normally not do because of the price). About two hours into the flight, an attendant walked by and asked what I was reading. By now, I knew I was reading a romance novel (something I would not normally read). I was more the Ludlum, Clancy, Follett, and Graham Greene kind of guy. I casually turned the book over so she could see the title.
To my surprise, she says rather loudly, "My God, I loved that book!" Several people around me immediately looked over to see what I was reading. She then went on, "I cried and cried while reading it. I must have gone through a box of Kleenexes. My husband kept on asking me what was wrong, but I could not even begin to explain the emotions that this book brought out of me."
By now, I had stuffed the book in the front seat pocket and was hoping this conversation would soon end. Unfortunately, the flight attendant was just getting started and all the passengers around me were now listening. She went on by saying, "I hope I won't ruin the story for you, but when Robert said something like, 'This kind of certainty only comes once in a lifetime' I was an emotional wreck. Then, near the end, when Robert was standing in the pouring rain a few yards from Francesca waiting, asking, pleading for her to leave her husband and go away with him, I kept on hoping she would."
By now, the attendant's eyes had tears in them and I was slinking further down into my seat. My mouth was as dry as dessert sand, but the attendant was not the least bit embarrassed as she continued, "That last scene when Robert was at the stoplight and Francesca and her husband were right behind him was almost too much for me. When she grabbed the door handle and was ready to jump out of the truck and run to Robert, I was cheering her on by saying, 'Yes, YES, YES!' My husband thought I was crazy, but I could not help myself." About then the attendant realized that she had been talking for some time and needed to get back to work. She patted me on the shoulder and commented, "This book made me laugh, cry, cheer, and so much more. What a wonderful book. Just seeing you reading it makes me want to read it again."
By now, anyone within earshot was interested in our conversation and I wish I could have hid under the seat. As the attendant walked down the aisle, several nearby passengers leaned over and asked what book I was reading. Somewhat embarrassed, I pulled the book out and showed it to them. It was, "The Bridges of Madison County," by Robert J. Waller. It is a good story as well as a good love story. The movie is also pretty good (who doesn't like Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep).
________________________________Today, the attention I received back then would not bother me. It would be another opportunity to make a new friend and break up a long flight. Back then, I was still hung up on what others thought of me … including what I was reading.
By the way, one of my favorite quotes is when Robert said, "Things change. They always do, it's one of the things of nature. Most people are afraid of change, but if you look at it as something you can always count on, then it can be a comfort." It fits nicely with a saying that I use quite often. "The only thing constant is change."
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