"Of course," she said, "as long as you show why I should consider him a historical figure." She then went on to inform the class that we would have to present our write-ups in front of the class, she wanted us to develop some "public speaking skills". We lived in rural Cape Breton, and I can remember thinking at the time, "Why the hell do I have to stand up in front of people to talk?" I will never use public speaking skills.
But I wanted to impress Mrs. MacDonald, and over the next few nights I poured my heart into that assignment, and since I knew I had to get up in front of the class, I tried to make it as funny and interesting as possible. On the day I finally presented it, I felt like I was going to throw up, my hands were sweaty, and I think I stuttered for the first 10 sentences. And then I realized I was probably not sounding too impressive, so I focused, sucked it up, and tried to sound interesting. I was the last to present that day, and when the bell rang, my classmates did not jump up to make for the door, they sat and I finished....afterwards, Mrs. MacDonald said that while she thought she knew everything about Elvis, I had taught her something new about the man. But then she went on, and said, "When your classmates did not jump up, but wanted to hear the rest of your paper, do you know why they didn't? Because you have a real talent at writing, and when you are a good writer, you can capture attention. You did that today."
She was the first person to ever say that she thought I was a good writer, and I will never forget that, ever. She continued to encourage me to write, long after I left her class room. She said to remember that passion that I had about Elvis, and always try to write about things I love and care about. Of course, she was write, I always find that the pieces that I write that get the most reaction are usually on topics that I have a special interest, and when I let my heart go onto the page.
Today is Elvis' birthday. So this was my long winded, roundabout way to say Happy Birthday to the King, but also to send thanks to Marlene, and all the teachers and friends that followed that said they thought I could write. I still have to prove it to myself.