"You should go on Dancing With The Stars," my wife said as a recent installment of that particular talent-show-from-hell program began.
At first I just mumbled something under my breath about preferring to shave my head with a cheese grater, but, prompted (more like prodded) further, remarked, "I'll do it if Veronica Hamel is the star. (Brief pause here while everyone under 40 Googles Veronica Hamel.)
And, yes, for the record, I know she is playing character roles now, but so would I if I were an actor. In fact, guest columns are, kind of, the character roles of journalism.
"No," my wife said, caught up now in her own fantastic construction, "You wouldn't be the dancer. They are real professional dancers. You would have to be the star."
I was preparing to ask if there was a category for over-the-hill pseudo-journalists. But I was distracted by watching Nancy Grace tango (sort of) across the screen.
"I'm not a star and I haven't done anything to earn any celebrity," I said. "Why would they let me on stage?"
"Are you kidding?" my wife asked, incredulously. "They have a Kardashian up there! How high do you think the bar is set?"
By then I was pretty sure she was kidding, although one never quite knows around our house.
First, she knows I hate shows like Dancing With the Stars and American Idol because they are boring, predictable, most likely (it seems to me) rigged and. . . oh yes . . . addictive. If I get sucked into it for one episode, as I did a few years back with Warren Sapp as one of the stars, I am hooked. You watch one show and then another and the next thing you know, you actually start caring who wins. Survivor doesn't count because its contestants make no claim to talent, and the show does, at least, provide drama and skimpily clad women.
This time on DWTS, it was Chaz Bono's appearance that drew me in. I admired him taking his transgender (and chubby) status public and rooted for Chaz as long as he was on. And, admittedly, I was curious if Nancy would find a way to convince herself that everyone on the show was guilty of, and should be executed for, something.
But my wife knows — along with anyone else who has ever seen me on or near a dance floor — that the premise of me appearing on such a show is apt, as am I under such circumstances, to fall flat on its face.
As I wrote some years back, a good general rule is that straight white men should never dance in public.
Before that column was submitted, I polled African-American and gay friends and colleagues to make sure I wasn't being (too) politically incorrect. They all agreed that it was an allowable observation — enthusiastically, in some instances.
"Absolutely not," said one African-American friend, "and just what IS that face that you guys make when you are dancing?"
Remember, I said general rule. I know there are men of my race and orientation who can dance. It's just that I am not one of them, and I don't know about the face because, even in private, and even if all the doors were locked and the shades were drawn, I would never, ever dance in front of a mirror.
I did dance occasionally in the '70s, when no one in the room was in any condition to criticize (or even remember) what was happening. But I finally had to admit I just can't dance. I can get up and stumble around the floor and, one hopes, not fall or step on anybody too painfully. I think I have done that twice in the last 20 years or so, but basically I am satisfied with my wallflower status.
But, in the spirit of things, I volunteered, "Maybe I could go on American Idol and sing."
My wife's face froze.
Some things, even in my house, are not to be joked about.