Last night, I spoke to a crowd at my local library, right here in Beautiful Downtown Damascus, Maryland. There’s something just so nice about speaking in front of your home crowd. I was nervous — after all, you want to do well in your own neighborhood or you may never hear the end of it (and in my case, I live only a block from the library, so I didn’t want to botch things in my own back yard) — but I was also more relaxed than I’ve been in any other venue. Heck, I didn’t even dress up all that much, adopting my Casual Persona of boots, jeans, denim shirt and tie, and a suede vest and coat. For Damascus, that meant I fit right in — and was maybe even still a tad overdressed.
Our local Friends of the Library put on a good spread, and I had a good time talking with the crowd. Like most of the groups I speak with, audience members only knew Irving — if they knew him at all — through “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” or “Rip Van Winkle.” That’s why I always love to see the reaction I get when I tell the stories behind Irving coining two terms that are forever linked with New York: “Gotham” and “Knickerbocker” (which can still be seen across the front of New York’s NBA team jerseys, albeit in its now more familiar abbreviated form, reading simple KNICKS.) Mouths hang open, and there’s usually a bit of laughter around the room. Good stuff. While I probably talked a bit too long (I always want people to feel they’re getting the most for their money), I got lots of good questions afterwards, which is always a good indicator of whether people were engaged.
My thanks to librarians Karen Miller and Chris Lundy for making the event so much fun. And a special thanks to my Damascus neighbors for coming out on a Thursday night. I appreciate it.