Pine Nuts: The road is my middle name |

Pine Nuts: The road is my middle name

McAvoy Layne

I just love that song, "The Road is My Middle Name." There are no dull times on the road. I cite this last week. On Monday I attended a dog camp at Zephyr Cove. Every breed under the sun was represented, even the shih tzu. I just had to say to the owner, "You know, if you take a long, hairy dog like that and waddle him along anywhere in the world and not charge for it, people will stare at that dog."

During the course of the evening, everybody seemed to want a picture of their particular canine with Mark Twain, and every last dog tried to put his wet nose on my pant leg and sniff the scent of the one that went before him.

I spent the entire evening fending off dogs and got a case of the hives in the operation. While dining under the stars, a black lab managed to pilfer half my tri-tip off my paper plate when I wasn't paying attention, and I went home hungry.

On Tuesday I was invited to talk to a group of signers for the hearing impaired, and, as I always feel important when I have signers at my programs, I spent 24 hours tailoring a program just perfect for them.

I tell our young graduates when I have the opportunity to deliver commencement speeches, "Never confuse fame with greatness. Fame is Lady Gaga, greatness, Helen Keller."

Come to find out when I arrived at Harveys, these were not signers after all. They were sign makers. I had nothing in my quiver for sign makers. I had to punt.

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Wednesday saw a new dawn, and I got to present a sesquicentennial show with Shiloh in Eureka at the Opera House. I only wish now I had asked somebody to go along with me on that drive. It was just me and the coyotes out there.

As I entered Lander County my radio reception fizzled, and I was feeling mighty glad I did not have pistols or poison in the truck, or it could have been over for me. As it turned out the Opera House was a magnificent venue and we had a grand time of it in Eureka.

On Thursday I got to fly to Las Vegas for an extravagant sesquicentennial show at the new Smith Center, and I suspect it might be another 150 years before that much talent is gathered together on one stage in Nevada. Jerry Lewis? He was the first person to make me laugh outside of my immediate family — wow.

Two Cirque du Soleil girls were warming up next to me on the floor backstage, and I had to ask them, "How do you dooo that?" My neck is still stiff from craning it to get a better look at what was happening onstage. It was the most dazzling variety show I've ever seen.

Friday I flew home to rest before flying back down on Saturday to talk to the Nevada League of Cities at the Texas Station. In the Reno/Tahoe Airport I was stopped by one of Reno's finest.

"Mr. Twain, didn't I just see you here," they said.

"Yes you did, officer, but you see, when I spend a night in Las Vegas and I don't have work, well, I come home broke with a $100 hangover and have to go to confession," I said. "So now that I'm older and wiser, I fly home and go back the next day."

"You have to go to Las Vegas to teach them history, don't you Mr. Twain, because their history started with Wayne Newton," came the reply.

On Sunday morning, after a most interesting week on the road, I had to pinch myself and ask, "Who ever said bein' dead ain't fun?

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