Fred had a loud voice. The school had no microphone or amplifiers. So Fred was cast as the Narrator of the Grade One Christmas play at school.
All the other kids got to wear bathrobes, wrap towels around their heads as shepherds and Magi and lounge around looking at a doll in a toy crib.
Fred had to wear an itchy, too-tight grey woolen suit, white shirt complete with starched collar and trendy striped bow-tie.
Fred’s orotund tones united the audience in a single thought: each person felt they knew a child who could have done the job much more effectively.
Meanwhile Fred’s badly-clad, flannel-plaid, fair-weather friends snickered behind him and poked his bottom with the pointy ends of their shepherds’ crooks.
Fred also had a small inner voice.
A single thought simmered in the recesses of his six-year old mind and expressed itself in a silent prayer repeated over and over.
And then, after a particularly nasty poke in the posterior, in a burst of passion and thoughtlessness that has since become his hosting hallmark, the silent prayer burst through the thin dam of diplomacy and was shared out loud with the entire audience:
“Good Lord, I am uncomfortable as hell and I’m not even being paid for this!”
A polite two-second pause to allow his parents to experience total mortification was followed by the loudest laughter and applause of the evening.And that is why, to this very day, people have paid dearly to hear Fred speak … and paid even more to shut him up.