I must admit to a weakness for Reality TV. Not the manipulated “real life” genre usually traced back to Big Brother, which was first broadcast in 1999 on Dutch television. Not the survivors, the amazing races, the housewives, or the shores that followed. The chink in my cultural armor is for programs where contestants battle to be crowned best singer or dancer, most creative cook or savvy apprentice. And I blame it on the immortal question, “Do YOU want to be Queen for a day?”
Literary Autism: Shakespeare to Harry Potter
“Until the age of five, I was classified as an autistic child.” This revelation shocked my public speaking class in 1971. I chose autism as the subject for an “informational speech” assignment because I was also taking a psychology course called Exceptional Children. I’d just read a chapter on the little-known condition and found it fascinating. But a good speech requires more than an interesting topic. It needs an ending that packs a punch. Because I was majoring in drama, not journalism, I didn’t think twice about using some creative license. My startling “revelation” was a boldfaced lie.
Two things I didn’t anticipate. An informational speech is followed by time for questions. My classmates had plenty, most concerning what I remembered from back then. I improvised like crazy about a soft-spoken woman, repetitive behavior, and other false memories. At the end, my professor commented on how remarkable it was that I was now an extroverted theater student. I hoped my intense blushing would not give me away as I returned to my seat. Apparently not. I got an A.