As someone who has devoted significant energy to thinking before speaking, teaching public classes can present genuine challenges. When in front of a group - especially talking about music - even with a carefully created outline, being extemporaneous can get me into trouble unless I stay mindful. I'm pleased I was in that mindful state doing a recent presentation about Bruce Springsteen since a cousin of his was in the class.
I guess it wasn't far fetched this happened. After all, the class was held here in Bruce's home county. That said, I was very relieved I didn't know about the connection until after my presentation ended and she introduced herself. Knowing my hard-to-stifle propensity for sometimes showing off, had I known in advance, it's not hard to imagine me making a fool of myself in a lame effort to impress.
I did have one clue shortly before the class ended. The husband of Bruce's cousin (I learned they were married in an extended conversation later) asked me to re-show an earlier slide listing the bibliography I'd used while developing my program. Such a request is highly unusual. Though I gladly accommodated, I wondered about that request in the moment. And then later driving home, I was again relieved that all the direct quotes I'd used in my slides were carefully sourced.
A final lesson extracted from this pleasant surprise/close encounter with a relative: In future presentations, I'm going to stop using specific names of well known musicians and songwriters who, in my view, don't measure up to the giants I frequently cite in my courses. If I don't bash authors here in my blog, why - aside from grandstanding - am I mindlessly bashing musicians or songwriters in even more public forums? And how would I feel later finding out a relative of the person I bashed was present?