About 5 weeks ago I was asked by Richard S. Drake to appear on his television program ‘On the Air’ for an interview.  I don’t have cable, so to my embarrassment, I had to ask him about his show.  Was it a religious chat?  Political?  Would I have to show up before dawn (not my best time) and perch on a small pointed stool like my last interview?  (They nearly had to get the Jaws of Life to retrieve the stool after I was done with it.)  Would it be recorded via a wide angle lens, making me look like I Sumo wrestle on the weekends?  Most importantly, would it be LIVE??   The following ‘conversation’ ensued:

Thea Phipps October 20 at 2:50pm
Hello, Mr. Drake. It’s nice to meet you via facebook. The above is a very intriguing and exciting request. Unfortunately, I haven’t had cable for about 6 years, so I am unfamiliar with the program. Can you tell me a little about it, please? Is it religious, political, or just local?
Also, will the interview be live or taped? I’m abominable on live tv. Well, so far I am … Only one interview, but I was unsettled by the interviewer’s tendency to stare past my head when I was talking. I don’t know – Maybe she was merely presenting her best side to the camera. . . (If you want a rather candid account of the debacle: )
Richard S. Drake October 20 at 3:16pm Report
The show is a little about everything, since I get bored very easily. In the past 19 years I have interviewed writers, politicians, former CNN anchors (well one, anyway) singers, and artists of all stripes.
The show would be taped, and shown about a month after we tape it. When we started the show in 1991 it was live, but that got old very quickly. We tape Thursday mornings at around 11am. I hope that this might be agreeable to you.
I’ll check out your interview – I think you might have a better time on my show!
(Six minutes later…)
Richard S. Drake October 20 at 3:21pm Report
I just read your piece – yeah, you’ll have more fun on our show!
Thea Phipps October 20 at 3:26pm
Sounds great!
And I am sure that I will have a better time on your show. I am already at ease and looking forward to getting together with you. :)
Do you already have a tentative date for me to come in?
Richard S. Drake October 20 at 3:28pm Report
Well, we could do a show next Thursday – that would give me time to read “The Doll in the Wall.”
Off to class now – I’ll send you more details on the show, which I am looking forward to.
Thea Phipps October 20 at 3:35pm
Thursday, next week? Works well for me!
(Whoops! I’d better read ‘The Doll’ myself! I’m in the middle of book 3 and my mind is tangled up in another plot… Most call that forgetful… I call it ‘unburdened’…)
Richard S. Drake October 21 at 11:23am Report
I understand that concept . . .
Richard S. Drake October 27 at 11:00am Report
Just a reminder of our show tomorrow – don’t wear red or white! They will mess up the lighting! Look forward to seeing you!
101 W. Rock – right across from the police station.
10:45am is a good time to get there.
Thea Phipps October 27 at 12:57pm
Just curious… I hate to be surprised in an interview… What did you think of the book(s) ?
Richard S. Drake October 27 at 2:06pm Report
I enjoyed it. I finished it this morning.
Thea Phipps October 27 at 4:33pm
Oh, good! I am very relieved. Thank you for telling me. I’ve been ambushed once before on a radio interview. Only once, but once was enough for me. Being surprised at my age anymore is a waste of time and energy.


First, I was asked to do a station promo.  I was to look straight into the camera and say, “Hello.  I’m Thea Phipps, and you’re watching Community Access Television in Fayetteville, Arkansas.”  That was all.  Sounds simple, doesn’t it?  Well, so did I . . . 

I looked straight into the camera, a hush fell in the studio . . . I mean a silence so profound I heard a toilet flush next door . . . I opened my mouth to say ‘Hello’ . . . and suddenly had an insane desire to look at Richard sitting beside me and say, “Now?  You mean . . . Now?  Like . . . right now?. . . Oka-a-a-a-y, NOW!”

I would have been kicked out of the studio before they would have had time to turn off the kleig lights.  

I got myself under control – though I have to admit that it took some ultra-silent seconds for me to do so – then began my one sentence spiel.


When I got to the part of, ‘in Fayetteville, Arkansas’, I became aware of Richard mouthing the words along with me as a sort of prompt.  When you are already smiling, holding back a fit of laughing becomes a herculean feat.  I nearly lost it.  I have no idea why.  It just struck me as so funny.  I made it through, however, with nothing more than a slight wobble to the word, ‘Fayetteville’.  I sounded demented, but he was right!  I was already having much more fun!

Then before beginning the interview, Richard gave me one very emphatic morsel of instruction:  DO NOT AT ANY TIME SPEAK TO THE CAMERA.  LOOK AT ME.  NEVER AT THE CAMERA.

Guess what I did.

But in my defense, I wasn’t exactly speaking to it.  I was gathering my thoughts.  I was letting my eyes rove about the studio.  I was using my memory, which tends to skew my eyeballs a bit to the right.  Everybody does it.  Try it.  Watch others.  Ask a G-man trained in interrogation.  Unfortunately, the camera was right in my line of memory vision and I wasn’t even aware of looking at it.  It was merely an upright stationary object in the middle of the floor.  So I have those moments of searching for the right word . . . of remembering an event . . . and looking right into the camera with an utterly blank look.  In fact, I begin my interview with that skill. 

Then came my favorite part, well into the interview, when I felt a burp starting to form.  Great!  I knew that as soon as I opened my mouth, it would pop out.  So I tried to diffuse it while he finished his question.  It kind of released itself as a low frequency belch.  Well . . . two low frequency belches.  The anxiety of the first belch caused the existence of the second one.  Too late, I remembered that my mic was clipped on the neck of my sweater.  Would the audience hear it?  Would they think that I ate beans the night before? 

The only thing I regret was that I didn’t do the interview a week or two later than I had.  At the time, I had just gotten over the flu and was still suffering the aftermath of low energy.  I used the table in front of me as a prop, leaning my elbows on the edge for support – not to hold myself upright, but because it was more comfortable.  Unfortunately, this made me speak relatively gesture free.  A couple of times I thought I saw Richard glance pointedly at my hands.  So, eventually getting the message, I gestured.  Rather spastically.  I had to stop.  I was afraid I’d start laughing at myself.  It would have certainly made for a livelier interview if I had let myself go, or if I had the energy to be more irreverent, but I couldn’t risk Richard asking me to leave the room.  Little did I know at the time that Richard wouldn’t have minded a bit.  

All things considered, it was a wonder I didn’t complete my appearance by falling out of my chair.

Thank you, Richard for asking me to be on your show.  I had a great time!

Do you have any embarrassing moments you want to share?  (Yeah . . . live them twice over.) Remember, to leave a comment, click on the ‘Comments’ tag at the end of this blog, and don’t forget to check out the latest Photoblog on the right.  Just put your cursor over the picture to read the caption, or click on one if you want to leave your comment.

And now, to watch a funny video – oh, wait.  You’ll have to wait until I can post the time and date of the interview. . .  Richard, feel free to jump in any time and comment . . .

Have fun!

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  1. Snuffygump says:

    You must know that these moments are buried deep within the bowels of ones memories? So deep, that I really could not recall one single incident, at least for a few hours after reading your blog.
    I had been sewing all of my school clothes since I was 12 years old. The summer of my 14th year, I found a really cute swimsuit pattern. My mother paid the .25 cents for the pattern. I picked out a denim colored kettle cloth for the suit as well as some red rick rack, which alone would have made this whole venture embarrasing, but my mother had trained me well, and rick rack was the embellishment of the 50’s and 60’s.
    I made my swimsuit debut on the opening day of the city pool. It was tradition to kick off first day of swim season by climbing up the high dive and jumping.
    Now, I do believe that this high of a diving board is of the type used by those who practice high diving for competitions. Thea, you know the diving board I am referring to at Wilson Park, in Fayetteville.
    My good buddy, Jane went off first. Then it was my turn.
    I have to pause here and describe this suit in more detail. It had an empire waist and a skirt that hung down from there and covered the butt, with its matching bottoms trimmed with red rick rack ( I tell you , I am just as embarrassed describing this suit).
    I take a good running jump, gotta make the biggest splash!
    The skirt of my suit became a parachute. when I hit the water, there was an explosion and the skirt flew strait up and wrapped itself completely over and around my head. I was naked! 14 years old, and naked!!!! And drowning!! I didn’t know whether to cup my hands over my 14 year old booblettes, or save myself from drowning and still being totally humilliated in death.
    Meanwhile, I surfaced. Great, now everyone could see and I still have this parachute with red rick rack swirled from the neck up over my head and face.
    Finally, I got this octopus like skirt off of my head. It was still attached on my shoulders by way of the straps.
    Now it was floating on the surface like a lilly pad. My head was the little blossom in the middle.

  2. Kippy says:

    I can’t believe my Mammy would tell everyone in the whole world that she had red rick rack on her homemade bathing suit! This may be my most embarrassing moment, ever! ‘Cept, now I do remember a terrible thing that happened to me a long time ago when my Mammy and Daddy had to work all over the Northwest and West. Nobody will believe it though, so maybe I just won’t tell.

  3. Kipper says:

    I guess everyone is waiting for you and Uncle Randy to get off of the boat. Did y’all have any embarrassing moments on your cruise? Everyone must be hoping so, cause they didn’ want to write theres until you and Uncle Randy got off the boat.
    Mammy has been trying to encourage Slarty to reveal her embarrassing moment just not too long ago, but nothing so far! Maybe she will write about another embarrassing time. After all, no one has just one!

  4. Slarty says:

    You know, it is hard to think of embarrassing moments as in they don’t seem as embarrassing now as they might have been then. After a while embarrassing moments are just funny. And there are so many. There was the time I fell on my rear during a group dance in front of a large audience. There was the time that my top fell down during a dance. And then the time that my pants split at school. The hole was big enough that both of my fists fit in it. The school police officer escorted me home to get a new pair of pants. The hole couldn’t have been in more horrible place. The story Kippy is talking about though happened just a couple of weekends ago. I made my first trip to the liquor store to pick something up for my cousin. I didn’t want to at all, but I thought since I was staying at their house eating their food, and using their water that I would be nice and do what I told myself I would never do. I already knew there was a chance that employees of the liquor store would question my age since I look 14. I decided it would be a little less stressful if I just went through the drive thru. There was a line so while the guy was at the window taking the money another guy would come out of the building and take orders to have ready when the vehicles got to the window. So the guy comes to my car and I tell him what I want and he walks away laughing. I am pretty sure he went back in and immediately told his buddies. The guy at the window very quickly glanced my way. It was scary and embarrassing. It didn’t help my case that the seat covers in my car are hot pink and my passenger was my 13 year old cousin. Eventually they did believe me and I got to go home.

    Snuffygump, yours definitely tops (or no tops ;) ) mine! Thats terrible. Once I was at our city pool and I was hanging on the edge of the pool right below the lifeguard stand. I went under and pushed of the wall putting me in front of the lifeguard. My push was so powerful that it caused the bottoms of my suit to fall down revealing my white rear. I like to just think that the lifeguard was too busy watching everyone else on that end of the pool (about two others) to see my rear. Oh…the lifeguard was male…of course. Ok ok I’m done. Kippy’s turn!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. Snuffygump says:

    Slarty, It’s hard to feel your pain when I am laughing so hard! It is true what you said about how the passage of time does turn the embarrassing incident into a humorous one!
    Another incident that happened with me wasn’t even witnessed by another soul, yet it embarrassed me deeply, because I do not like to misrepresent myself in anyway.
    My husband, I and another friend were helping yet another friend move from Colorado to Florida.
    There were 3 large trucks, loaded, as well as pulling a vehicle or boat behind. Val and I took up the rear of this caravan. In between was our friend, Bill, whom we had given a southern name, Billy Bob. Bill was pulling the big boat behind his truck.
    All three trucks were equiped with CB radios (before the era of cellular phones) so that we could communicate between trucks on this long journey.
    This entire trip was a disaster from the begining. After a particularly bad day of it, Bill’s boat broke loose of his truck, while speeding along I-70 through Missouri and then gliding along side of him on the outside shoulder of the interstate. Because of this near catastrophic breakdown, our friend who was the mover, got rooms in a motel for the night. The boat hitch had to be rewelded and now we were stranded in Misourri.
    After rendevouzing with the mechanic to do these repairs, Bill, Val and I all left our other friend with this mess and drove on to Columbia, Missouri where our motel rooms awaited.
    Val and I found our exit with no problem, got to the motel and into our room. But where was Bill? We thought he was right with us, we only drove maybe 10 more miles down the interstate, before we reached the exit.
    Val had me get on the CB radio and I started calling out to Bill, using his southern name of Billy Bob.
    “Billy Bob, where are you? We’re at the motel at exit 217″ (fictional number, since I do not remember and it doesn’t matter). I kept on repeating this same message over and over and no Billy Bob.
    After some minutes of this, there was a response. “She says she’s at exit exit 217! YAHOO! I’m going in now!”
    It was like a cock had crowed! This trucker thought that I…. ME!, was a highway hooker!!!! And he sounded so happy! Delighted! Excited!
    I was mortified.
    Oh, what happened to Bill? By the time he showed up he had driven 120 miles round trip. He spaced out, missed the exit and was nearly to ST Louis, 60 miles down the road. By the time he turned around and drove back it was 120 miles.
    Maybe he WAS more embarrassed that night?

  6. Kippy says:

    I’ll try Slarty, but nobody believing me will be so humilating! It wasn’t just a costume malfunction. This has never happened to anyone before!!!

  7. Kippy says:

    OK, Auntie Thea…….now I will tell you, since I knoooow nobody is going to see this! Everybody has moved on to your next blog and they are all happy that you wrote it, because now they can forget about confessing their embarrasing, life altering angst. But since I am a nice little Kipper and have been raised right, to respect my elders, I will tell you my most embarrasing ever experience.
    My head came off. Yes, that’s it! I told you know one would believe me, but it did come off!! It happened way back when my Mammy and Daddy used to travel to far away places all the time to work. We were getting ready for bed when Mammy discovered it. My head was just hanging on by a few threads and you couldn’t tell, because I was wearing my cowboy kerchief. That’s probably what kept me from losing my head all together!
    Mammy said I had to wait until the next morning till she could fix me, so I had to sit up all night with my head propped up against the back of a chair. I couldn’t even lay down! All night I dreamed that my head fell off and no one noticed and my Mammy and Daddy drove away from the hotel, leaving my head behind. Then the maid would come in and find my head and just toss it in the trash. Like I was just some unknown rag doll that no one cared about or loved anymore, because they left my head behind.
    Now that I think about it, this was more of a nightmare than embarrasing!

  8. Thea says:

    Poor Kippy! But your mammy saved you, right? And you didn’t lose any of your brains! Wow! I’m glad your mammy caught it all in time. And that she can sew.
    I’ve never had anything like that happen to me unless you can count the time I fell out of a bunk bed while I was sleeping. But I didn’t land on the floor. I slipped off the bed in that space between the wall and the bunk, and hung there by my head until my parents discovered my feet waving over them. And I didn’t even wake up.
    But that doesn’t compare to what happened to you!
    Are you alright now? Did your mammy use good, strong, quilting thread?

  9. Kippy says:

    See! If your mammy and daddy hadn’t found you in time, your head probably would have popped off! And then we wouldn’t have all your stories and you and Uncle Randy wouldn’t be my Auntie and Uncle. You would probably be Auntie Vera and not have a sense of humor and living in Oklahoma.
    Well, yeah, I’m OK, now….that was a long, long time ago! The only thing that my Mammy has to fix on me a lot is my mouth. So, when we travel, my Mammy has a first aid kit with thread and black yarn and these hideously, wicked long needles that you could use to pole vault with….or at least that I could use.

  10. Thea says:

    I hope she gives you Novacaine first before she uses them.

  11. Purplume says:

    LOL doesn’t quite do it and I wasn’t roflol. It was a long bout of hard laughing, almost pee in your pants laughing. Would that be piypl?

    I had an embarassing swimsuit time, In the 90’s I wanted to swim with the dolphins. I was sold on all the anecdotal evidence about how they bounce their sound waves off you and you are forever changed. Actually I knew a woman in an abusive relationship. She swam with the dolphins and came home and moved on. I wanted to see what changes would happen in my life.
    And I didn’t have money to do it. So I happened to be at the beach at Santa Monica and it looked like dolphins were out beyond the breaking waves. Either that or sharks, I couldn’t tell. I decided they were dolphins and I started out. I grew up swimming in lakes with 6 inches being a big wave.
    A wave washed over me and took my top off. A big man leering at me, approached me. Horrified, I got my top back on in time for the next wave to take it off. And the man came closer. Running away through water, keeping my top on and getting knocked further back to shore with every wave I gave up in the dolphins that day.


  12. Thea says:

    Oh. My. Goodness!
    The mental image on that one, Purplume! :D :D :D !
    I can only assume the picture you sent me where you are swimming with the dolphins was taken at another time. I see you wore a wet suit for that one :D

    And, yes… piypl should be an official text abbreviation!

    Thanks for your experience and for sharing a good laugh with us!

  13. This is some of the greatest material I have ever read online. Sounds as though the whole family could be make a living by writing! Or talking or whatever. Talent is a sad thing to waste. So keep it up and look for more outlets.
    I have 51 google blogs plus two or three old Web sites still online and thousands of photos on Flickr. But doing short takes on Mondays at CAT is my favorite activity of the week.
    I, too, was interviewed a couple of years ago by Richard Drake and it was fun and a true privilege.
    I look forward to watching your show this week. I will be watching on the Internet directly from the CAT internet site because the channel has changed from 18 on Cox to 218 on Cox, and I don’t have a digital box connected to see it on Cable yet. However, I have the digital box from Cox (free for first two years) sitting near the TV set and will try to hook it up soon. I hope you get to watch your show online. If you miss it, I imagine that Richard will give you a free DVD.
    Sincerely, Aubrey James Shepherd, 444-6072 or

  14. Thea says:

    Thank you, Mr. Shepherd, for your wonderful compliment! Just what I needed to jazz up my whole week. :D
    I looked you up on Internet and was privileged to see some of your creative endeavours. I’m wondering if perhaps you knew my dad, columnist and reporter Guy Barnes?
    Anyway, back to your comment, I have a DVD already, but am loathe to watch it. My husband has already seen it. He said that Richard conducted a great interview. When I asked him how I came across, my honest husband said, “You looked really bloated. But you sounded okay.”
    High praise, indeed! :)
    Ahhh… but I did have fun doing it!

    It was great meeting you, via Internet!
    I hope you continue to visit my site!

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