Many years ago, about twenty five, the phone rang right before dinner one night. I was busy preparing the family’s meal and doing my best to get things cleaned up before my husband arrived home. There were no answering machines in those days, no voice mail – you either answered the phone or you listened to it ring and ring and ring incessantly, until, in a desperate attempt to shut the thing up, you answered the phone impatiently, wondering what in the world anyone with common sense and manners of any kind at all would be calling at this hour.
You have to understand that I was busy being a mother, after having to research and write Silent Knife. I hadn’t watched a television program, listened to the radio, or read a newspaper in years – – those years were spent doing research in medical libraries, reading articles about birth, looking through obstetrical text books — as well as co-founding C/SEC ( Cesareans/ Support, Education and Concern) with Jini Fairley and teaching VBAC classes.
The person at the other end of the phone said wanted to know if I would be on his radio program. I had recently been on several programs and was quite tired. My dad was very sick and I was thinking I needed some time off. I told him that I was making dinner and that I would be happy to call him back. His response was very immediate and quite curt: if I didn’t say yes right then and there, he would never call me back again. In other words, this was my one and only golden opportunity. I didn’t understand and asked him if I could please be in touch later in the week. He said, “No” and hung up.
What a moose. What arrogance.
A little while later, my husband came home from work. As he was putting his things down on the counter, he saw a piece of paper on which I had left some notes and doodles.
“Why does it say Larry Larry Larry Larry and then King?” he asked.
“Oh, this guy called and asked me to be on his radio show,” I said, quite nonchalantly.
“YOU SAID ‘YES,’ DIDN”T YOU????” – this shouted at me in a very excited, almost shrieking tone of voice.
“Not on your life,” I said. “He wasn’t very understanding.”
Paul looked at me and shook his head. “Don’t you even know who Larry King is, Nancy? He is very well known. This might have been your ticket to fame and fortune — people all over the country would know about your birth work and about your book.”
No, I didn’t know who Larry King was – but now I do.
It took several days but I got a number where I might have been able to reach him, but although I left a few messages, he didn’t ever call me back.
Well, Mr, King, I wish you a very happy retirement. If you ever want to find out more about my work, check out the Schlesinger Womens’ History Library at Harvard University. It’s absolutely totally amazing, but my stuff is being archived there.