Editor's Query: Tell us about a time when a show-and-tell didn't go exactly as planned

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Early in my first-grade school year, in 1963 in Oceanside, N.Y., our teacher assigned a show-and-tell for the next day about what our fathers did for a living.

My dad worked for a small import wine company, so that night, to help me prepare, he described how wine was made from grapes in faraway countries. We had a linen kitchen towel that depicted a map of the wine regions of France -- a promotional giveaway from my father's office -- and he let me borrow it for the show-and-tell.

The next day, my classmates came to the front of the room one by one to tell what their fathers did for a living. My friend Cindy explained that her father was an auto mechanic. Diane told us that her father owned the local pizzeria. Paul said that his father was a furrier, and we got to pet -- and ooh and aah over -- a real mink pelt.

I desperately wanted to jazz up my presentation because my map towel would seem awfully boring after all of that.

Just as I took the floor, I remembered how my mother had told a neighbor about my father's line of work. Her approach had gotten a lot of laughter, so I decided to do the same. "My father is a wino," I said.

My teacher cut me off. A phone call home later that afternoon straightened everything out. It was the only time I remember my mother scolding me while smiling.

Laura Hills, Fairfax

New query

Tell us about a time when you learned you weren't as smartas you'd thought.

If you have a 100 percent true storytaken from your own experience concerning the above query, send it to queries@washpost.com or The Washington Post Magazine, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C., 20071. Include your daytime phone number. Recount your story in 250 words or fewer.

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