Opinion: Musings on the Coast

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Being Honored…and humiliated

Readers of this column might remember that I helped create The Discovery Science Center. It is an interactive children’s science learning “center” off the intersection of the I-5 freeway and Main Street in Santa Ana. You can’t miss it because on one corner of the main building sits its symbol, a giant black cube.

Today, the center is called The Discovery Cube, or simply, The Cube. It aims at children interacting and learning from more than 100 exhibits. They push buttons, pull switches, manipulate objects, and laugh with glee as they run from one exhibit to the next.

School kids are bused there from a 90-mile perimeter. The annual attendance is about 700,000, not including The Cube’s sister Discovery Cube in Sylmar.

Every year, the Santa Ana Cube holds a 400-person Gala and honors one person for contributing to The Cube. At its Gala about a month ago, I was honored. It was for raising about $25 million from the State of California (thank you, State Senator Tom Umberg and now retired State Assemblyman Tom Daly).

It was a big deal, and I induced my three kids and many friends to attend.

To start my ceremony, The Cube showed a small video about me. Assuming you are reading an electronic form of this column, you can see the vid by clicking here (don’t fret, it’s funny): www.youtube.com/watch?v=NRhVTQ92YV4

After that, I was to give a small speech and boy, was I prepared! I had written and practiced a five-minute spiel thanking all involved and, during the earlier festivities, had stayed stone sober.

Then it was my turn. I approach the stage with total confidence. It was a short walk, up a small flight of stairs, a walk to center stage. Then I was there at the podium, gazing out at all 400 people anxiously awaiting my pearls of wisdom (yeah right—they’d just sat through more than an hour of a screaming “live auction,” a variety of speeches, no food, and would rather have been at their sister’s husband’s cousin’s baptism).

It was at that time my mind went totally blank. I had no idea what I’d say. I looked at my notes, and they were incomprehensible. So I winged it, first thanking the bank that had financed part of The Cube, then thanked the bank again, and then the head bank guy responsible, Phil Kohn, and then again. I was wandering.

I knew I had to thank Umberg and Daly, but I forget when and how, and instead thanked former State Treasurer Phil Angelides, (in attendance), who, through his good offices, had provided $20 million low-cost financing for a different institution, the Orange County School of the Arts.

Then I noticed my oldest daughter, Elizabeth, 34, who had climbed the stairs and was standing twenty feet away but ever-so-slowly approaching. She was taking tiny, slow steps and smiling. “Dad,” she said. “Dad.” I looked over. Had she been sent by someone to yank me off the stage? Was she being a great daughter and saving me further public embarrassment?

I didn’t know what to do, so I introduced her to the crowd and thought, this can’t be happening. It’s the Twilight Zone.

To make a long story short, she finally arrived at the podium, took my arm, and we departed back to my table, where I quickly had two glasses of wine and asked myself, “Did this just happen?”

And oh, somewhere on the stage, I had lost my glasses.

Michael is a Laguna Beach resident and principal officer emeritus of Laguna Forward PAC.

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2 COMMENTS

  1. This may well explain the confusion and cognitive dissonance Mr. Ray has been displaying in his recent and troubling columns attacking Toni Iseman after years of public service, and comparing disgraced former councilman Peter Blake to Theodore Roosevelt – not to mention his repulsive and redundant attacks on Village Laguna. I thought it was just the ramblings of an old, embittered man, but short of a stroke, Mr. Ray’s performance on stage may signify early onset of something more significant. Mr. Ray, this is serious business, and rather than joking and masking it with alcohol (which may well be one of the causes), may I suggest seeking some medical interventions? Your children are obviously concerned, and so is this reader.

  2. I was fortunate to be asked to attend this event and was blown away by all that had been achieved at the cube, and Michael’s part in that I think when you’ve done something wonderful and are being honoured it’s quite enough to just be up there , talk about it ( which you did lucidly and humourously ) and just lap up the appreciation . Structured thank you speeches bore us all. I came from the UK a to attend this event . Michael you did us proud –

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