High Technology High School in Lincroft, NJ is a pre-engineering academy. Like a lot of high schools, once a year they have Career Day. Unlike most other schools, since they are a pre-engineering academy, 99.9% of their speakers are engineers. This can be quite repetitive. I mean, how many different types of engineering is there? Furthermore, a healthy percentage of the student populace attends the school simply because it has been ranked as the number one public high school in New Jersey and the number seven public high school in the entire nation. In other words, they have no interest at all in being engineers; they just want to go to a bitchin’ good high school.
In this spirit, they apparently sent around a questionnaire to the kids, asking them what careers they wanted to hear from this year. Among them were author, policeman, astronaut, super hero, fanatical dictator, evil twin from a parallel universe, and certified public accountant. Of these, they managed to get me (author), and a policeman (state trooper). The rest could not agree to a particular calender date (the CPA was the toughest to nail down).
So there I was a few days ago — me, the state trooper, and 13 different types of engineers (the school still insists on playing to its base). In the lobby, they posted our resumes.
Now, understand that my resume came from the publicity department of my publishing house, complete with Hollywood head shot and braggadocio balderdash. When I submitted it, I assumed they would cut it down and make it match the format of all the others.
So as you entered the building, there were these brief little bios of the engineers and the state trooper and then there was this big, blowzy pic of yours truly looking like he was running for President. The only thing missing was the anecdote about me ducking from sniper fire as I visited Bosnia. I have now come to learn that engineers rarely have publicists.
Embarrassed, I carried on. Four presentations — one every 30 minutes as kids filtered in and out. Enjoy public speaking? Like doing it extemporaneously like I do? Then try to do it 4 times in a row and not repeat your pithy anecdotes to the same group twice. Very challenging indeed. I felt like Bill Murray in “Groundhog’s Day.”
I don’t like to brag (bull!) but my crowds were healthy in size as I took on the non-engineering crowd, splitting my booty with the statey (I wonder if they call them that in Jersey as they do in the coal region?). As expected with a group this erudite, no dumb questions, just a dumb speaker (me).
Do you know what’s easier than writing? Lecturing about it. I imagine lots of people with writer’s block turn to this for a way to kill time.
Anyway, I think a good time was had by all — certainly by me. Funny, though. I have two teenaged sons and neither has read my PG-13 rated book, nor have they really insisted on it. The eldest only likes sci-fi/fantasy and the youngest is too damn busy to read fiction right now unless it is assigned for a class. Despite this, I get before their peers and talk about the darn book. Now I have some of their friends asking to read it. I’ll let you know how that all turns out.