SPEAKING IN public is the thing Americans fear most, according to a study by a market-research association. It's followed by fears of heights, insects, financial problems, flying, dogs, elevators, escalators, and cats. I guess I would be afraid of flying dogs if I ever saw one. Before joining AA, I had no fear of heights, that is, of getting too high. In my cups, I had no fear of speaking in public. I could keep a roomful of people spellbound (perhaps "paralyzed" would be a better term).