In Eyewitness to Power (Simon & Schuster, 2000), David Gergen recalls a flawless rehearsal in which media-savvy President Reagan practiced using a pen to draw a line on an easel. But at the TV address that night, the pen had gone bone dry:
"Our original cuts totaled $101 billion. They (pause).I can't make a big enough mark to show you," the President said, drawing the pen across the chart.
"Screeeccch!" That was all that could be heard or seen. No line. An awful silence..
Fortunately, our television producer, Mark Goode, had more foresight than I did. He had brought a second red pen with him, and as soon as he saw what was happening, he hit the floor and started crawling across the Oval Office. The Secret Service had conniptions, not knowing what to think about this man crawling toward the President. Reagan just looked puzzled.
Mark, dear Mark, made his way around the back of the desk to the Old Man's feet. He held up the second pen. A twinkle came into Reagan's eye. Reaching off camera and without missing a beat, he told his audience, "Now my pen is working."