When I was asked a couple of months ago to participate in a "Dancing With the Stars" shag competition, I was nervous but flattered.
But my big-head moment was short-lived after I giddily told a friend that I was going to participate.
"You're in `Dancing With the Stars'?" Pearl said, acting just a little too surprised, I thought. And as if that wasn't bad enough, "Which star are you going to dance with?"
"What? No! I'm the star!"
"Dang," said Pearl. "They must've exhausted the B, C, and D list celebs. Couldn't they get Debby Boone or Tiffany or somebody?"
Come to think of it, Pearl and I really aren't all that close.
It took a while for me to explain to Pearl that this wasn't THE "Dancing With the Stars" but, rather, a charity fundraiser. I was being paired with a champion shag dancer by the name of Brad, or as I prefer to call him "The Most Patient Man Alive."
Having never shagged in my entire life, despite having been born and raised just an hour's drive from Carolina Beach, I was afraid that Brad would be disappointed.
"No, no," he said kindly. "I prefer working with a clean slate because that way there won't be any bad habits already ingrained." Oh, honey. My slate wasn't clean, it was boiled and bleached and shrink-wrapped.
The basic step took me forever. How did Jane Seymour learn how to samba in five days? Oh, G-d, I take back all those nasty things I said about Jerry Springer's rumba.
For the past few weeks, Brad and I have met for shag lessons in the finished room over his garage. We're joined by Sam Cooke, the Temptations and the Rev. Al Green. We're also joined by Brad's huge lab dog, Jeb, who regards my pitiful efforts with a baleful look followed by the occasional poot, which is much the same way I expect the judges to react next week.
Brad has patiently demonstrated classic shag moves like the boogie walk, where your legs go all noodle-y and the pivot, a full-speed twirly thing that's scarier than the words President Jeb Bush.
Because it's actually a judged competition with me and a few other "stars" going for a trophy, I'm plenty nervous about getting up there in Myrtle Beach, the Shag Capital of the Universe, and competing. Fainting like Marie Osmond isn't completely off the table at this point.
Speaking of the universe, it's probably not a good idea to tell your British friends that you're competing in a shag contest because, as you may know from watching Austin Powers, to Brits, shag is another word for doing the devil's aerobics. Just so you'll know.