Ive always been a team player. When I got a trolling motor and a years worth of bait for a birthday present, I let everyone think I was crying tears of joy. When my sons preschool needed someone to chaperone a field trip, I volunteered from my hospital bed. And, when my husband took me primitive camping for our anniversary, instead of to Hawaii, I drove over his favorite tackle box repeatedly. What can I say? The magic never ends.
Recently, I was asked to speak at a seminar and told my family about the offer during dinner. Naturally, I thought my team would be impressed. They werent.
Im going to be the entertainment, I grinned, waiting for flowers and shouts of Youre No. 1. Nothing. Its a large dental group, I beamed, flinging my hand out for a high five. Wayne tossed me the salt. Yep, therell be over 200 people, I added, scanning the table for signs of life.
Professionals, breathing, professionals, not preschoolers. Wayne took the salt back, and the boys started playing the drum solo from Wipeout on the table with their silverware.
Honestly, whats a person have to do to get attention around here? Do they think my only talent is cleaning? Well, let me tell you, the toilet paper doesnt replace itself and the socks dont get up and dive into the washer on their own. And, just because I dont break into song and dance or perform stand-up comedy at the PTO doesnt mean Im a toad.
When I first started writing, my family thought it was a phase. I got 10 minutes on the computer, and copies of my columns were used as coasters. My kids refused to look at my stuff unless I paid them. Mom asked whether there was trouble in the marriage and Wayne fell asleep every time I gave him a rough draft.
Did my first newspaper column impress them? No. Wayne credited it to a slow news day. I worked my way into several papers, and when the magazine feature came along, I was sure that my family would finally be rendered speechless. Nope, they had more to say. Mom wondered why anyone would want to read about my problems. Wayne reminded me that it wasnt exactly Shakespeare, and the boys confessed theyd never read my stuff.
I sat at the table smiling like Mr. Potato Head until someone spoke. Do these people know who you are? Wayne asked with a puzzled look on his face.
Nope, not a clue. They picked me out of the phone book.
Really? Wayne asked.
NO! I shot back. Theyve read my columns and seen my picture. I may not be a calendar model, but Im just as funny as one.
Of course you are. You keep us laughing, Wayne replied. I stared across the table at my family. I had seen happier faces at a funeral.
How long do they want you to talk?
Well, I am a very interesting person, so about 30 minutes.
Whoa. Thats waaaay too long, said Leo. Youll bore them. Owning a salad shooter doesnt make you interesting.
Aah, I sighed softly, you really have the gift of encouragement.
Are they paying you? Morry chimed in.
Yes, I said, holding my head high, Im the entertainment.
Thats amazing, Leo whistled. I figured youd have to pay.
Dont worry. If they demand money, I can always use your college fund.
Well, just remember, honey, Wayne said, patting my hand, if you completely bomb, well still love you.
I appreciate your support, dear.
After several intense exchanges, the table went quiet, and I got more stares than Brad Pitt at a Seven11. I tried to remain vaguely positive.
I spent the next three weeks practicing my speech in the kitchen in front of the cats. This was a mistake. The cats yawned during my funniest lines and then rolled on their backs pretending theyd died. Sometimes theyd just get up and walk out on me. When I left to use the bathroom, they tipped a glass of water on my notes, destroying them.
Leo passed through while I was trying to project the sound of my voice. He told me to tone it down, the Mars Orbiter was picking up my signal. Morry offered to hear my speech, but only if he could watch TV while he listened. And Wayne wished me luck on my lecture to the veterinarians. Dentists! I yelled back. Dentists!
The morning of my speech, I looked in the mirror and reminded myself that this crowd had to be easier than my family. The speech went well, and when I got home, Wayne and the boys were waiting with a card. It said, Were proud of you. What can I say? The magic never ends.