Thursday, November 15, 2012

My most surprising role model

I was at lunch recently with a writer friend and we got onto the topic of role models. We each had writers, parents, other individuals we admired, and then another name occurred to me – one he found surprising. And I imagine you will too.

Those of you who have even heard of this person.

Okay. Ready? One of my role models was Shari Lewis.

So who’s Shari Lewis? Younger readers will have no idea I’m sure.

Shari Lewis was a kids’ show host in the ‘50s-‘70s. She was also a ventriloquist. Remember the puppets Lamb Chop and Charlie Horse? Those were Shari Lewis’. They weren’t particularly hilarious but they were endearing.

And some other things about Shari Lewis: she won twelve Emmys, was a magician, juggler, singer, dancer, and was considered one of the finest ventriloquists in the world. Oh, and she co-wrote an episode of STAR TREK.

So why is she a role model?

In 1974 I was a disc jockey in San Diego. (See my annual post about being fired just before Christmas.) A friend was visiting and we went to Belmont Park, which is an old-time amusement park, complete with rickety roller coaster, a boardwalk, etc. It’s still open. Neither Sea World nor Legoland could kill it. 

Well this was an afternoon in the middle of the week during August. Crowded it wasn’t. How it’s still open today I don’t know.

Oh wait.  Wrong lamb chop
We walked by an auditorium and saw that Shari Lewis was performing. Next show in ten minutes. What the hell? A little nostalgia. And it’s not like there were a thousand other great things to see or do at Belmont Park. So we went in. The auditorium seated probably 200. There was one person sitting there. We figured, well when it gets closer to showtime people are going to stream in. So we took a seat right up front. I had heard she was a great ventriloquist so I wanted to be close enough to see her lips. (How many people go to a show because they want to see the star’s lips?).

You see where this is going, don't you?

When it was time for the show to begin there were literally three people in the audience. Now remember, Shari Lewis at the time was a big name. She had done network shows for over a decade. She gave not one but two command performances for the Queen. And here she was, on a hot August afternoon in an amusement park performing for three idiots. Oh, and it was free admission.  How much could she have been paid?  I picture some supervisor handing her a big bag of quarters from the Whack-a-mole game. 

I would not have blamed her if she had come out and said, “Sorry guys. I never do shows for audiences smaller than the number of puppets I have.”

Redd Fox essentially did just that once.  He was a long-time nightclub comic who became the star of SANFORD & SON.  As the story goes, he was playing in some Vegas showroom.  It's the midnight show.  There are four people in the house.  The band plays the SANFORD & SON theme, he walks out on stage, surveys the audience, says something to the effect of "Four fucking people?  I ain't plain' for four fucking people."  He then walks off.  The band again plays the SANFORD & SON theme, lights up in the auditorium.  End of show, goodnight.  

But that’s not what Shari Lewis did.

She came out and started her show.

At first, I have to admit, I was really uncomfortable. I felt so self-conscious. She was essentially doing her act just for me. And it’s not like I could leave.

But as her show continued my discomfort slowly gave way to admiration. Even though there were just three audience members, she was performing her heart out. It would have been so easy to just go at half-speed, drop a bunch of bits. But Shari went through her material with energy and class. (She probably did drop some of the jokes geared for kids but that's all the more reason to thank her.)  There could have been 10,000 in the venue. I was in awe.

And the show itself was great. She was a phenomenal ventriloquist. I remember a bit she did with an auctioneer, puppets talking a mile a minute, she chiming in -- it was amazing. Another time she had her puppets sing and even yodel. How do you yodel without moving your lips?

When the show was over – and it was about 45 minutes. We stood up and gave her a standing ovation. And since it was just the three of us, my friend and I approached the stage, shook her hand, and told her how knocked out we were by her performance. I also joked that she should consider changing agents. She laughed.

But if ever there was the definition of a trouper; that was it. Over the years I’ve been on the radio in the middle of the night knowing no one was listening (a 15 inning Syracuse Chiefs game from Denver on a station that covered less territory than your Wifi router), been in an improv group that would occasionally play to audiences of seven, and wrote everyday for a blog that when I started out was being read by maybe ten people a week. But I always thought back to Shari Lewis. I learned from her that day what it means to be a consummate pro and I have emulated her ever since.  Sadly, she left us way too soon.  She was only 65 when she passed.   But I'm proud to say she's one of my role models. 

Do you have a surprising role model?  If so, who and why?  And can she yodel?

59 comments:

John Leader Alfenito said...

What a great story, Ken.
I always thought Shari Lewis had a terrific sense of humor. Apparently, she had a lot more than that.

Mike Barer said...

I watched her as a kid, I was surprised to learn recently that she had passed away.

Johnny Walker said...

Wow, respect! I can't think of any unusual role models off the top of my head, although I'm sure I must have some.

Terrence Moss said...

Bernie Mac -- 20 years of toiling on the comedy circuit and watching his friends sign sitcom deals before breaking out to greater success than his contemporaries.

Tina Fey -- despite the awards, I am sure she would have loved more viewers for her sitcom.

Jay Brannan -- turned his passion for singing and writing music into internet success and now tours internationally.

James Lavin (teacher) -- saw behind anger and sadness and made me a star of the high school stage.

JT Anthony said...

A pro's pro. I also admire her work ethic. That perhaps she didn't have to do the show, but that she was still practicing/perfecting her craft even as a seasoned professional. Or, she wanted to test new material, and there are few substitutes for staying sharp than actually being on stage and performing--no matter the audience size or venue. Great example of working hard to earn the adulation and respect.

William C Bonner said...

My parents have a story about seeing Danny Kaye in the rain. He paused his performance when it started to rain to see if the audience wanted to stay, then continued as it rained and they stayed.

Dustin Younse said...

When I was about 4 or 5, mid Reagan years, I was visiting my great grandmother for Easter in a Houston condo complex composed mostly of folks in their retirement years. There were a handful of other kids there so I went to play with them. We stumbled across Shari Lewis in the courtyard, sitting with an old friend visiting. We all knew her on sight and were in awe. She laughed, went inside, and came back out WITH LAMBCHOP to give us a private performance for about 20 minutes. That woman was truly the best.

Steve McLean said...

I've done a lot of theatre over the years and have been lucky enough to perform with 'pros' like that who feel that an audience of two (which we've done) deserves the same show as a full house.
A nice story about Shari. After she passed, I couldn't wear socks for a week.

Barbara C. said...

Shari Lewis also had a brief show on PBS in the early 90's. My nephew loved it!!

"This is the song that doesn't it, it just goes on and on my friend, some people started singing it not knowing what it was,
and they'll continue singing it forever just because...

This is the song that doesn't end..."

Max Clarke said...

There's an episode of Cheers when Sam does something that disappoints Woody so much, he can't use Sam as a role model anymore. He'll have to go back to the one before Sam - St. Thomas Aquinas.

Chach said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chach said...

Golf-playing friend has Lamb Chop headcovers. Was serendipitously paired with a guy who was a major honcho with PBS in Canada. He had pitched Shari Lewis to his group back in the day, but they all poohpoohed the idea.

He signed her anyway and she made millions for the company.

Rick said...

In Gary Marshall's most recent autobiography "My Happy Happy Days In Hollywood", he talks about working on salary for Shari with his then-writing partner. (Like you did Ken, Gary raved about Shari Lewis' work ethic and professionalism.)

Gary hilariously described Shari being sweetly supportive going over their submitted material with them, serving coffee or tea with pastries.
Meanwhile sock puppet Lamb Chop--who always sat in on the discussions-- would be ripping them new ones, "Boys, this is shit...you can do better than this."

After a half-year or so, Gary's partner insisted they quit, saying "I can't write for laundry anymore."

Barry Traylor said...

Shari Lewis was always a favorite of mine. Not only was she very pretty but her humor was so gentle. We could use more of that in today's world.

Mac said...

Great story. I loved her and lamb chop when I was kid in the UK - so it must have been on UK telly.

Barefoot Billy Aloha said...

Carl Sagan, Richard Dawkins and Moe.

Cap'n Bob said...

Role model? Eddie Haskell, but that's my problem.

I liked Shari Lewis as a child but hated Lamb Chop. When I got older I realized what a beauty Shari was and really adored her, and I also warmed up to Lamb Chop. I saw a short bio about her on TV once and she admittde her favorite food was lamb chops, which always made for awkward moments when she went to restaurants.

Knowing she died at 65 is both sad and scary. I'll be 65 on Monday. (In lieu of gifts, send cash.)

WV: ooknook 0. Coming to a mall near you.

Norm said...

Barbara C., Shari's "brief" show lasted FIVE years, 1992-1997, so, Ken, a lot of your younger reader's would know who she is!

I'm VERY fortunate to have two of her finest episodes from her 1960's NBC Sat. Morn. series in my collection.

She was amazing!

Brule Eagan said...

I just loved Shari Lewis. That's a great story, Ken. Thanks.

Dana Gabbard said...

Steve Allen and Thor Heyerdahl.

gottacook said...

I remember seeing Shari Lewis on TV in the 1960s and also on her '90s PBS show. I liked her so much that I actually regretted hating the Star Trek episode she co-wrote with one Jeremy Tarcher (yes, I know many of the episode writing credits without checking - for good or ill that's the sort of brain I have; also I saw many of the third-season episodes first run on NBC). A minute of online research indicates that Tarcher was her husband, a writer-producer of her 1970s show, and eventually a well-known book publisher.

The episode can be summarized as follows: Scotty falls in love with a visiting lady librarian who looks nice in uniform; her life is then imperiled by bodiless space aliens. Better they had worked Lambchop into it somehow.

Matthias said...

Aw, Shari Lewis performed at my elementary school once (late 1970s probably), and it was just about the most exciting thing that had ever happened in my young life. I haven't thought of that — or Shari Lewis — in years. Everybody from that era remembers Electric Company and Captain Kangaroo, yet she seems to have unjustly fallen into the memory hole. Thanks for reminding us.

Kevin In Choconut Center said...

Bobby Lewis, who had the #1 record of 1961 with "Tossin' And Turnin". I saw him in concert in 1987 and he was amazing. I mean, the man had had one big hit 26 years earlier but he hit the stage with great energy. And when the show was over, he shook hands with every single audience member, of which there were 100 or so.

Eduardo Jencarelli said...

I may be slightly young, but I remember both Shari Lewis and Lamb Chop. Both appeared on an episode of The Nanny, back in the 1990's.

Wendy M. Grossman said...

I saw Shari Lewis plenty when I was a kid; I'm not much into cuteness, but I always thought she was impressively good.

It is so *staggeringly* hard to perform in front of a tiny audience - laughter doesn't build, and there's no energy coming back to help you. That's really a stunning story.

A Friday question (slightly mischievous) occurs to me: how do you feel when actors you like and have worked with (for example, Jane Kaczmarek) pop up on shows you feel are sub-standard (for example, the season premiere of WHITNEY)?

wg

*tarazza said...

What a great story. I love Shari Lewis. I'm 28, and when I was a kid she was doing Lamb Chop's Play-Along on PBS (I think) and it was absolutely my favorite show. I was technically too old to be the primary audience but the thing I loved about it was so hysterical it was. I remember practically crying with laughter at the jokes and bits she did and repeating them for my mom later. She was amazing.

Steve Chaput said...

Jealous that you got to see Shari Lewis perform in person. What kid back then (I'm just about to celebrate my 62nd birthday) didn't love her? Even watching her on TV in our living room, it seemed as if she was able to personally connect with you. You always wanted to believe that if you did meet her she would be just as nice as she seemed with Lamb Chop sitting on her arm.

yatesy said...

I'm a standup comic and have done a lot (sigh...a LOT) of shows for crowds that numbered under 4 (sometimes 1). It is hard, but that one person might enjoy themselves, come back and/or tell others. So you just get on with the show.

RCP said...

An inspiring story - I have the utmost respect for that kind of attitude.

I always liked Shari (more than Lambchop), and much more than the simply weird Kukla, Fran, and Ollie.

There are a number of role models I can think of - one thing they all have in common is perserverance despite the odds.

D. McEwan said...

Oh yes, I loved Shari's 1950s kid show and watched it every week. I was always fascinated by ventriloquism as a kid, and had my own Jerry Mahoney ventriloquist puppet. This fascination did not survive puberty, but my admiration for Shari did.

I have long lost count of the times I've done shows where the cast out-numbered the audience. I used to, when I was emceeing to such small audiences, tell them: "Well, you better laugh. we outnumber you, and one of us is off his or her meds tonight."

But I drew the line at no house. One time I was emceeing and running the room on a group sketch-and-improv comedy night in The Comedy Store Main Room. (This would be in 1980) The last group one night went up to play for the two people remaining at one table. Midway through their act, the two people left. (Well, it was one AM on a Monday night) The performers were so into their sketch, they didn't notice. I had to walk out on stage and interrupt them. I got these pale looks from them as I said: "Sorry, but when the last actual audience members walked out this went from being a performance to a rehearsal, and I'm not being paid to supervise your rehearsals. It's over. Good night."

Mean John Dean said...

I agree that Shari Lewis was and even though she is gone still is one of the greats of ventriloquism. A true professional, did you know she learned that from her dad who also was a performer? I’d say mostly you will be pleased to learn that Shari's daughter Mallory is keeping Lambchop alive and she read your article and linked it on her Facebook page. I’ll take a liberty here and on her behalf I would like to thank you for your kind words.


John Parisi
President
Florida Ventriloquist Association

Gerry Seinfield said...

I really can't stand pedantic lurkers.
Having said that, I believe it's "trouper."

Greg Ehrbar said...

Shari Lewis was a great ventriloquist and had a lovely singing voice on her own. She was also a tireless pioneer who carried an ages-old entertainment form into several decades, from early television to cable.

It's nice of you to remember her here because she deserves to be commended for surviving being a female in a era when it was very tough for a woman in a nontraditional kind of endeavor. She was never patronizing to kids and encouraged interactivity in her TV shows, recordings and many books. She was always entertaining, yet usually also gently taught her young audiences some sort of positive message.

She also played Vegas clubs. I remember seeing her on an HBO special dancing with a life-size Fred Astaire puppet.

One of my top heroes is Salvadore "Tutti" Camarata, one of the greatest musical arranger / conductor / composers ever. He was the A&R director for the Disney record labels for about two decades, created the "Annette Sound," created the dual-tempo pop song format for Jimmy Dorsey, arranged and conducted for Mary Martin, Bing Crosby, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday and countless others.

He's not a household name, but that's part of what made him -- and those like him -- great. It wasn't about "hey everyone look at me," it was about doing terrific work with excellent people.

Eddie said...

Wonderful story about Shari Lewis, who I remember watching as a kid.

I once saw Richie Havens perform on a tiny riser in the midst of trade show. Four people on folding chairs were the audience (me, a couple who didn't know who he was, and a guy who insisted that he couldn't possibly be Richie Havens). He played and sang as if it were Woodstock. I was as amazed by his commitment as I was by the performance.

As for heroes... I had the good fortune to work with former Marquette basketball coach Al McGuire, who I think about every day. I have never known anyone who was as true to himself as coach Al.

Breadbaker said...

Shari's One Minute Jewish Stories were a staple in our home as we raised our son.

And if Ken Parisi's note didn't raise a tear in your eye, Ken, I'll be very surprised. Totally dusty here when I read it.

Keith Swearingen said...

Shari Lewis was a unbelievably multi-talented person. I loved watching her perform when I was a kid and luckily my children also were able to see her on tv. She also wrote some wonderful children's books. I also vaguely remember watching her( on PBS I believe) conduct a full orchestra. Talent like hers comes along only a few times in a lifetime. Right off the top of my head, Jim Henson and Rita Moreno along with Shari would be my choices for genius entertainers of the last 50 years.

Doug said...

Shari Lewis played Belmont and my mother didn't take me?! I need to have a conversation with her.

Craig Edwards said...

Before satellites started beaming TV signals all over, networks would send celebrities to each affiliate station for telethons in the 70's. Thanks to this practice I spoke to Shari Lewis - and Lambchop! on the phone after pledging money my parents gave me. I was thrilled to get to talk to her for a minute or so - she was a wonderful woman - sent to the boondocks of southern Missouri - which is where we got our CBS signal from over in southern Illinois (and thanks to the geography of the area the NBC affiliate came out of northern Kentucky) - I miss those days when cool stuff happened in that magic circle of a few miles around the broadcast tower...

Joseph Scarbrough said...

Hey, as a puppeteer, Shari Lewis is one of my heroes! I loved watching Lamb Chop's Play Along, and later, The Charlie Horse Music Pizza as a kid... any younger readers who don't know who Shari Lewis is needs some re-education, and FAST!

Nice to know she's had some influence on you too, Ken!

estiv said...

I inherited a "surprising role model" from a friend. He told me about attending a telethon in Oklahoma City in 1968, when he was a young bachelor with nothing better to do than hang out in an auditorium in OKC at 2:30 AM watching a charity event. The next act was announced, someone he thought of as a musical dinosaur: Louie Prima. Prima hit the stage with his band and kicked serious high-energy ass for 45 minutes, shaking, shouting, singing, dancing like his life depended on it. My friend said it was like a hurricane: Louie appeared out of nowhere, dominated the landscape for awhile, then suddenly disappeared. Just like your story about Shari Lewis, it was a lesson in professionalism, and what it means to be that combination of disciplined grownup and total loon who thinks that being dead serious about appearing to be lighthearted in public is something worthwhile.

Dick Bruno said...

Ken, I once did a performance for 3 people, expecting 100. Trooper she was!

I was in love with sweet and lovely Shari as a kid...and from your story with good reason.

(When I was older, I was hot for Lamb Chop. But that story is for my memoir, Compliance of the Lambs.

EricWGray said...

As Ken mentioned, she was a consummate pro...an extraordinary talent.

Shari was amazing... and well loved by all. We miss her.

Unknown said...

I don't have all that many regrets in life, but here's one: In the 1990s, I walked by a toy store in Santa Monica and saw a sign saying that Shari Lewis would be there the next day. I would have had to slightly rearrange my schedule to be there. I didn't. And she left us not too long after that.

--Harry

Phil said...

Reverend Brother Darcy Murphy CFC
Old, crusty, authoritarian.

But in Subbie English (Year 11) we were studying Hamlet and he never opened his own copy. If a kid was misreading, he would stop them and rattle off the correct passage on memory.

And he made the whole boarding house stay up past curfew to watch Life of Brian.

Good man, great teacher.

Pat Reeder said...

Everyone in my family loved Shari Lewis. My personal role models are Steve Allen and George Kaufman. I got the chance to meet Steve Allen, and he exceeded even my hero worship of him in terms of kindness to a young comedy writer. Kaufman I never met, but I did get to work with Tony Randall, and I made sure to ask him about his experience with Kaufman. Tony Randall was also a icon of mine who was terrific offscreen as well. We'd arranged a hotel suite and a private dressing room for him to have lunch while shooting an instructional video. He insisted that the Holiday Inn would've been fine. And he didn't want to go to the private room. He said, "I want to have lunch with the guys!" So he ate with the crew in the cafeteria,regaled us with great Hollywood stories and answered all our questions about his movies and TV shows.

BTW, I think you should always do the show with all your heart, no matter how big the audience. A few years ago, we were at the Las Vegas Comedy Festival, and Charlie Callas (may he RIP) came in to talk to one of the seminars. He told us there was a point in his career when things were so bad, he'd decided to quit and go into another line of work. He had one last gig in a Vegas lounge, and the only audience was a drunk couple making out in a corner booth. But he decided that if that was going to be his swan song, he was going to give it everything he had. So he came out and did all the crazy sound effects, wild gags, etc., you'd expect from Charlie Callas to two oblivious drunks and an empty lounge.

Later, as he was sitting in his dressing room pondering his future, a knock came. It was Tom Jones. He'd been on the way to the elevators after performing in the big showroom when he heard those weird sounds coming from the lounge and checked it out. He was so stunned to see this comic giving such a balls-to-the-wall performance to a nearly empty room that he had to stop and watch from the door, and he was impressed. He invited Charlie to come to England and open a show with him.

The next month, Charlie arrived in London to discover he's booked to appear with Tom Jones in a command performance for the Queen. He said that's fast how his career took off -- from performing for two drunks in an empty lounge to performing for the Queen of England within one month. He said that's why you should always give it your all in every show: even if there are only a few people out there, you never know who those people might be.

Wendy M. Grossman said...

Pat Reeder: So what *was* Randall's experience with Kaufman?

wg

chalmers said...

Roone Arledge, who became a legend at ABC Sports and News, got his start as a producer for Shari Lewis's local show.

In his posthumously published autobiography, he marveled at her talent, but also had some interesting notes on how she viewed her act early on, and some of the changes she made later to achieve huge national success.

Brian Phillips said...

The Belmont Roller Coaster has survived all these years, but it went into disrepair for a number of them. It and the park surrounding it is now operational again.

As for Lamb Chop, I have a baby picture from 1963 or 1964 and right next to me is a Lamb Chop puppet!

Call me "Chops".

Sharone Rosen said...

she really was brilliant and a class act. Between 5th grade and 8th grade, I tried to get people to call me Shari. It never really took.

My other childhood heroes were Will & Ariel Durant (yes, the archeologists) and Julie Andrews... Queen Elizabeth I, as well. We was one tough broad.

Brian said...

Great story Ken. My wife and I went to Vegas once and wanted to see a show. The best deal we could find was you guessed it - Redd Fox at midnight for $14.95 a ticket. The room wasn't packed - we sat right in front, and when I didn't laugh enough he looked at me and said "You almost laughted".

MikeBo said...

What a great story...and what a pro she was. She was very popular back then, and, this anecdote explains a lot about why she was popular.

D. McEwan said...

One of my lifelong closest friends worked with Shari Lewis once. Knowing how impressed she was with Shari, I made a point of bringing this column to her attention. She sent me the following reply today. (I'm not giving her name because I have sometimes quoted the things she's said to me about working with the insane egomaniac Fran Drescher, such as the story that sneaks in here, and it should be her choice whether to go public with her Fran-loathing or not, but I introduced her to you, Ken, at my Q Guide book event.) My friend wrote:

"Charming piece (and I enjoyed your comments). I got her to sign my Lamb Chop hand puppet from '59 or '60 when she guested on "The Nanny." My favorite memory of that show is Fran coming into the writer's room after the very first run-thru and saying, "The puppet has too many jokes!"

Pat Reeder said...

Wendy M. Grossman: It's been so long (about 25 years), I don't remember the details. I do recall that he said he didn't know Kaufman well, but he met him toward the end of his career. I think maybe it was an audition for one of the final shows he wrote or directed. He said he'd always idolized Kaufman as such a comic genius that he recalled being struck by how serious he seemed, with an aura of deep sadness. I wasn't surprised to hear that, but I don't know if that was due to his age at that point or what he'd lived through with his marriage and the scandal, or if it was just the way he'd always been.

BrettJ said...

Any time I see something with Shari, I watch it. She made me smile as a kid and she makes me smile as an adult. She was on an episode of "The Nanny" that was brilliant. I cried when we lost her and wish she was still around - I bet she'd click with today's kids. BTW, a lot of her last series "Lamb Chop's Play Along" was filmed here in Canada, as I recall.

Kid said...

It may surprise you to know (or it may not) that Shari Lewis was a big name over in Britain as well. I remember seeing her in the '60s and '70s on TV and I have the strong impression that she may even have had her own British TV show. She was certainly a frequent guest on other people's shows at least.

In Britain we had a TV show called Steptoe & Son, which was a big hit from around 1962 to '74. When it ended, at some stage one of its stars, Harry H. Corbett, took his one-man show on the road and eventually played my home town. Only about half a dozen people or so turned out for him, but he gave it his all according to the local newspaper report of the event, and met and posed for photos with the audience afterwards. What a trooper. And to think at one time early on in his career he was regarded as the British Brando.

One thing's for sure - he certainly seems to have had the same work ethic as Shari Lewis.

Kid said...

Oops! Sorry, Gerry - 'trouper', not 'trooper'.

Greg Ehrbar said...

Re: Kid's comments about "Steptoe" and Corbett... "Steptoe and Son" became of course, "Sanford and Son" in the U.S., but even though some of the early scripts are similar, they are very different shows and worth comparing. You can stream weekly reruns of the radio version of "Steptoe" on BBC Radio 4 Extra.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b009tw34

The biggest difference is that, perhaps because of Corbett's performance, the "son" role in more central to the series, and is a very rich, tragic/comic portrayal.

Great Big Radio Guy said...

Late to the party here, but Shari wrote one of the all time great earworms, and for this alone, she will live forever. Her spirit insures it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HNTxr2NJHa0

Jill Pinnella Corso said...

My sister and I used to love watching Lambchop.

When I was growing up, my role model was Shirley Jones. I used to watch old tapes of Rogers & Hammerstein musicals and dream of growing up blonde (because I assumed I already had her talent).