• 55°

Let's Not Go Traipsing Through The Galaxy

The phone rings at 6 p.m.

“Rob? Is Rob Chapman there?” the warm, friendly feminine voice asks.

Well, it's not that unusual for someone to ask for me, since it is my phone. And, I suppose, I had the receiver in my hand at this point so with a degree of tepidity, I gently put my big toe to my mouth, effectively gambling that it wouldn't be a mistake to tell them what they wanted to hear.

“Yes,” I find myself uttering, hesitating between the “e” and the “s.” “I'm Rob.”

There's always that moment of dread that follows. No one gets into trouble saying 'No.” No one.

“No,” as strange as it sounds, is the best prescription for staying out of trouble. “Yes,” well, that's a different matter. By willingly using such a word, I was potentially getting beyond mere toes into my big mouth, venturing somewhere closer to the heel.

If it were a telemarketer, she would have me, but good.

“Rob,” the voice broke the silence in most cheerful tones, “you have been selected to participate on our hit dance show, Traipsing Through The Galaxy. Congratulations!”

Of course, I grew up in a pop area where hustle's the name of the game, and nice guys get washed away like the snow and the rain and, of course disco, and songs with simple-phrased lyrics in such memorable musical melodies as “Do The Hustle” and “Dynamite.”

There, for you younger folks, now you nearly know the complete lyrics of two songs from the '70s.

But dance?

That woman, whoever she is, must have the wrong Rob Chapman.

“Miss,” I began, “there must be some mistake…”

“I don't think so,” she interrupted. “You are the reporter with The Farmville Herald, aren't you?”

“Well, yes,” I tell her.

“You're the one I want.”

Ooh, about this point, I figure I'm up to mid-tibia.

Dance? Me dance? This is some impractical joke.

I am many things, but a dancer is not one of them. Come to think of it, it would be some great challenge to find anyone-outside of lock-lipped family that I otherwise have the goods on-that could attest to my non-dancing skills.

I can only cut a rug with a carpenter's knife.

Swimming through the recesses of my mind, I remember an occasion trying to dance with my wife on a cruise. Trying. No one who knew me other than her saw me and, in retrospect, maybe Rob was caught flat-footed in an attempt at a bob and weave.

In any event, I was more shuffling than hustling on the dance floor. Though that was some time ago, I was no funky spring chicken even then.

“We're putting together another great cast of writers and media types from all across America…can we pencil you in?” the woman picked up the pitch.

I had to put an end to the limbo.

“I've got two left feet,” I tell her emphatically.

“We don't care,” the voice comes back.

“Now, what do I do?,” I wondered. There just doesn't seem any way to twist out of this predicament. Having said “Yes,” I was now having a difficult time conveying “No.”

Just then, the wife waltzed down the hall with a quizzical look on her face, perhaps wondering what was taking me so long. “Who is it?” she whispers.

I cover the receiver and clue her in. She chuckles to herself and motions for me to hand it over.

“I'm sorry,” the wife tells the woman. “My husband has a prior commitment. He has a recurring role on another show.

“What show is that?” I could hear the woman ask.

“'So I Know I Can't Dance And I Don't Want To Embarrass My Family.'”

“Oh,” the woman, now minus the rosy lilt responds. “I get it.”

Click.

As the wife hung up the phone, I couldn't help but thank her for getting me bumped from the lineup. And, as for those two left feet, it was really good to get them out of my mouth.

It's kind of hard to walk without them.