Monday, March 11, 2019

"A Toby Keith Interlude"


Explanation To Come.

On a recent Wednesday afternoon…

No, lemme start this way.

My brother had a joke about a guy who had a mustache but didn’t wear it.

My “mustache” is performing.  It’s in my arsenal but remains safely in the drawer, to be dusted off, generally, once every ten years, if even that often, but I am still happy it’s there. 

Okay.  Now...

On a recent Wednesday afternoon, I get a call from a guy named Jim, which was surprising for two reasons.  One, I had no idea who Jim was.  And two, our landline phone service was broken, so I did not know how he got through.

Jim explained that he was in co-charge (with a partner) of an ongoing podcast, a combined interview/game show called, pardon the pun and off-color allusion, Go Fact Yourself!

The program’s game-show component involved contestants with claimed expertise
on specific subjects.  A segment of that week’s installment, to be recorded the following Saturday afternoon, was a purported expert on The Mary Tyler Moore Show.  Since I had been an occasional ”Mary” scriptwriter – and imaginably everyone big from that show was either dead, unavailable or said no – Jim wondered if I would be willing to participate as an “Expert Adjudicator” on that specialized subject.

And I said yes.

Why did I say yes?

I don’t know. 

Maybe because I felt flattered to be asked.  Maybe I wanted a chance to perform.  (The podcast featured a live studio audience.)  Or maybe because, Saturday afternoon, it was either doing the show or taking a nap.

Also – no small matter – my participation was imminent, so there was no time to stew.  “Second thoughts”, yes, but no extended “What have I gotten myself into?  With the accompanying grabbing my head with both hands, rocking it worryingly side-to-side.

It would be Saturday afternoon, then, “We now return you to your regular programming.”

As it turns out, with the family over for Saturday lunch, my daughter Anna surprised me by saying she wanted to attend.  Once again, I said yes.  Making it one of the more positive weeks of my entire existence.

Later that day, I was driven to a local brewery that included a small stage and seating area for fifty or more audience members, who, when I arrived, had already “packed the house”, drinking beer, and enjoying the in-progress “Warm-Up Woman”/Go Facts Yourself-cohost Helen Hong.  (A regularly panelist on NPR’s Wait, Wait… Don’t Tell Me!)

My daughter Anna had arrived before me. 

Boy, was I happy to see someone I knew.

The operation was a substantially big deal.  There were overhead lights and microphones, and that stage.  It was like an actual radio show… with a near- inebriated studio audience.

Man, I was pumped!  Which producer Jim, my daughter later confided, interpreted as “nervous.”  (Anna’s explanatory response was, “He doesn’t get out the house much.”  Followed by the dryly droll, “Nobody watches him doing Pilates.”)

It is true that before I went up I paced the floor like a caged tiger looking to escape… or looking to pounce.  The two behaviors are identical and only a trained Tigerologist can distinguish the difference.

Based on Jim’s reaction, I later wondered if I’d appeared desperately needy, as in the old joke,

“He opens the refrigerator and does twenty minutes in front of the light.”

Anna assured me I was fine.  Panicked, perhaps, but not needy.

But that’s jumping ahead.

I shall conclude here, with me just about to go on, leaving explaining the Toby Keith reference for next time.  Which – if you needed one and hopefully you didn’t – is a good reason to come back.

Stay tuned… to a podcast that will someday hopefully become a broadcast.

So “stay tuned” to what,

I am not entirely sure.