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Fan wiring

I have three of the AC cooling fans that Radio Shack sells.  They are
very noisy.  One person recently said that they bought a reostat at
Radio Shack to slow their fan down, thus making the fan very quiet.

I went to Radio Shack this afternoon.  The first salesman never heard
of a reostat, but the next one took me over to a corner where they had
several kinds of potentiometers, apparently another name for the same

He picked one out for me ($1.49) and I brought it home, but I don't
know how to wire it up, or even if it is the correct thing.

It is called a "Linear Taper Potentiometer, 1 megaohm".  Its a little
disk about 1/4" thick with a long bar coming out of the center.  The bar

can be twisted back and forth and is obviously the control.  The disk
has three tabs coming out of one side where one should obviously
attach wires.

The salesman told me that the two outside tabs are the hot leads and
the middle lead is the common ground, which makes some sense I
guess, but otherwise his description of how to wire it is too
garbled to be useful.

Does anyone have suggestions on wiring it into the fan circuit?  If I
guess wrong, I think I can keep from killing myself (GFCI and all
that), but how likely am I to ruin the fan I am experimenting with?