Speeches don’t always turn out the way one plans. Although most of my presentations were done with almost no notes other than one or two words for each segment written on a card, I had a goal to do one thing different or new in each presentation, always working on new material. My first wife, Ruth was with me and I was speaking for a business group somehow connected with U of M at Ann Arbor. The audience had been great stopping me several times with prolonged laughter and even applause and I was doing my musical close. I had the background music for the wonderful song “People” made famous by Barbra Streisand but I did not sing. I talked over the music about them and their work and working together and such and I used the new material I had prepared that went, “I guess you could sum the whole thing up with just one word. “reciprocity”. Unexpectedly, I received a big laugh from about half the audience and the other half looked rather solemn as I expected. I finished with just two more sentences. The music ended and so did I and they gave me a standing ovation. I rushed out of there as quickly as we could and headed West on I-94 where I’d take Ruthie home and then drive on to Chicago for a noon luncheon speech at the Conrad HIlton the next day.
Before I could pull out of the lot that evening Ruthie looked at me solemnly and asked, “Do you know what you said?” and I told her I thought I did. I’d just done 45 minutes of talking. “What part are you referring to?”
and she said, “the closing.” “Do you mean my using the word “reciprocity?” and she said, “That’s not what you said. You said “Recipissity.” And I laughed. “That accounts for the fact that half of them laughed.”
At the Conrad Hilton Hotel next day, after my luncheon speech and receiving a fine standing ovation from a wonderful audience, a fellow came up to me and shook my hand. He said “Mr. Fettig, I was with that group in Ann Arbor, Michigan last night. That was a fine presentation and after you left we had to fill out our report on our two-day meeting and your talk was voted the most entertaining and the most enlightening part of our conference.” I was thrilled to hear this and thanked him. He paused a moment and said, “There was just one thing. We couldn’t agree about your musical close. Half of the members thought it was the most unique and moving part of your whole presentation and the rest of us thought it was the funniest.” Now it was time for me to pause. Finally I decided that truth was in order. I confessed that last night was the first time I had used that word; it just seemed so right for the occasion, and later my wife informed me that I had said, “Recipissity.” Once more he laughed and asked, “May I make a suggestion?” I told him to go ahead and he said, “I’d leave it in that way.” And I did.