E is for -
The holidays are like a minefield, chock full of potential embarrassments. As Mark Twain once noted, cryptically "Man is the only animal that blushes - or needs to." What a scamp! Mark Twain's real name, of course, was Hal Holbrook who is best known for portraying Samuel Clemmons and seven other characters in the One-Man Spanish language production Y Tu, Tu Twain
One night in the middle of a love scene Twain/Holbrook/Clemmons sprained his tongue and was forced to complete the performance with a pronounced limp. Years later, when asked what was his most embarrassing moment onstage, Twain smiles knowingly but Holbrook blushes and quickly changes the subject. After performing this show for over 45,000 audiences Holbrook is almost as old as Mark Twain would be if he were alive today, yet he doesn't look a day older today than he did the first time he performed in the role.
In a recent phone survey, when asked what they fear more, death or public speaking, 80% of Americans curse and hang up. Of the 20% that answer, 80% choose public speaking. (The other 20% choose to stay with their current long-distance carrier.) In truth, what people fear the most is being embarrassed. Yet, when reacting to an ugly article of clothing, most people state that they, "Wouldn't be caught dead
wearing that". What they really mean is, "I wouldn't be caught public speaking while wearing that."
So just what was Twain thinking when he quipped that man was the only animal that needed to blush? In the histories of fashion and torture, no one was ever embarrassed to within an inch of their life. What Twain meant by his comment is that animals don't celebrate the holidays or speak in public. Even when people dress up their pets in silly outfits, they are only embarrassing themselves. To an animal, all things being equal, holidays are no cause for celebration.