Just before I retired, I was walking in downtown Toronto’s famous underground path system, probably going to lunch, when I met a partner from a rival accounting firm.  I’d had many dealings with him over the years, but I hadn’t seen him for quite a long time. Although I strongly believe that details such as real names make stories more believable and, therefore, more enjoyable, this time, for a reason which will become obvious, I’m not going to use his name; let’s just call him Fred. We were indulging in typical small talk when suddenly he said, “You know, Lyman, I never liked you very much; but I have to tell you that you’re the most unforgettable son-of-a-bitch I’ve ever met.” I replied, “I didn’t know that, Fred, but overall I’ll take your last comment as a compliment.” “Take it any damn way you want,” he said as he walked away.  Not long afterwards Fred died of a brain tumor.

                                                              *  * *

             In the fall of 1957 I was taking the radio and television arts course at Ryerson in Toronto. We were given the assignment of recording an interview with a celebrity. Johnny Cash, then a young, fast-rising country star, was playing at the Casino Theatre in downtown Toronto, where the Sheraton Hotel is now. I lugged a big, heavy, ungainly Bell & Howell tape recorder, together with the necessary accessories, to the theatre and waited by the stage door until Cash came out. My fear that he would brush me off turned out to be completely unfounded. He graciously agreed to a fifteen minute interview and patiently saw me through some rough spots. I still have the glossy 8x10 that he gave me after signing it, “Thanks, Lyman. Johnny Cash.” As Johnny Cash had become my favourite singer when I heard his first record (Hey Porter), which was about two years before the interview, you can imagine how thrilled I was. You can also imagine how chagrined I was when my Ryerson professor, because he’d never heard of Johnny Cash, chided me for not interviewing a “real” celebrity.

                                                                 * * *

             In the spring of 1982, Anne, our sons Matthew and Alan, and I were on our way back to Toronto from Australia when we had a short stopover in Fiji. I was leaning against a wall in the airport, trying to get the kinks out, when a gentleman walked up to me and said, “You’re Lyman MacInnis, aren’t you?’ It was Jim MacNeill, the owner and publisher of the PEI weekly newspaper The Eastern Graphic. I commented on it being a small world. He said it was very small, indeed, as, while driving in New Zealand he picked up a young lady  hitchhiker who had a knapsack with a Canadian flag on it. She was Charlottetown doctor Doug MacDonald’s daughter. The late Dr. Doug was a very good friend of ours, and while having dinner with him, his wife Imelda, and some other friends of theirs a few months later, Doug opened a conversation by saying, “You’ll never guess what happened to our daughter in New Zealand last spring.” Before he had a chance to elaborate, I said, “She was picked up by Jim MacNeill while hitchhiking.” Doug sputtered, “Where in hell did you hear that?” I was able to smugly say, “In Fiji.”

                                                                  * * *

            As the keynote speaker at the closing dinner of a large convention at the Royal York hotel in downtown Toronto, I was seated at the head table beside the chairman. After my formal introduction I stepped up to the lectern and, as was my custom, paused for a few seconds before beginning to speak. The pause was long enough for someone in the audience to yell, “How come you didn’t sing along with the national anthem?” I said, “I have a deal with Anne Murray; she doesn’t do income tax returns and I don’t sing.” I have no idea who the leather-lunged heckler was, but he was responsible for one of the best speech openings I ever had.

                                                               * * *

            Another public speaking anecdote: As part of their monthly business meeting, I was scheduled to speak to the Toronto Estate Planning Council at the Albany Club in downtown Toronto. The Council’s meetings were run on a very tight schedule and I had been allotted twenty minutes. I don’t remember his name, but the chap who introduced me pontificated on my subject matter, talked about himself for awhile, and even though I’d never laid eyes on him before that evening, described a number of experiences that he and I supposedly had shared. After I started to time him, which was probably about two or three minutes into his so-called introduction, he rambled on for an astounding twelve minutes more! He finally invited me to the lectern and stood there until I reached it. On a shelf under the lectern was a nicely-wrapped gift which was obviously intended for me. As the windbag was shaking my hand, I picked up the gift, handed it to him and said, “Thanks for taking the time out of your obviously busy schedule to be here tonight.” I then announced that there wasn’t enough time left on the program for my remarks. I returned to my seat to a standing ovation. I’ve always assumed it was because I’d shot down the boorish introducer, not because they didn’t want to hear me speak.