Shakespeare’s In The Alley Again


“Why don’t you say a few words about it?”

That question, aimed at me, caught me off guard. It happened Friday during our insurance cluster social at work. (What, you mean everyone doesn’t have one?)

Tim K., cluster boss, posed it. The topic was the Ballantyne Relay for Life event which would begin within an hour or so.

I’d signed up for Relay the first day it was announced at RV. I had some experience with it, so I told Christina, captain of the insurance team, that I’d help out with any events that she scheduled to raise money for it. And then promptly forgot I’d offered.

Which was OK. The Relay train chugged along without me very well. I was still planning to go, enjoy the scene and walk a few laps. But I didn’t count on doing much more than that, and in truth, I didn’t.

But the outlook changed a few days ago. Christina walked over to my cubicle – that’s really not such a good sign, because at RV we mostly conversate by interoffice message or email. When there’s real personal interaction, something is generally wrong.

And so it goes. She had plans surface and would be out of town the day of Relay. But she’d remembered my offer and asked whether I’d stand in for her. There probably would be little to do – she was right about that – other people had pretty much lined everything up by then, but somebody had to kinda be in charge of the insurance team.

I agreed and decided that I would be the team’s vice captain. The only thing I did – up until the Friday social – was reforward an email. Which I did mainly because I wanted to make a pun about being “vice” captain – I’d always wanted to be officially in charge of vice, I told fellow insurance cluster members – marveling at my cleverness.

(An aside here: It was kind of stolen cleverness in the first place. From, of all places, “The Beverly Hillbillies.” Mr. Drysdale formed a corporation for the Clampetts – for tax purposes, of course. Jed was president, and Granny was vice president. She didn’t want to be in charge of vice. So they changed her nameplate to say “Nice president.”)

Anyway, I didn’t feel so clever when Tim asked his question.

It wasn’t because I mind speaking in groups – far from it. And it wasn’t that I mind speaking about Relay. I just didn’t have anything prepared. My face likely changed to the same color as my fire-engine red Relay T-shirt.

But it was OK. I’m pretty passionate about Relay, so speaking wasn’t difficult. My dad died from what started as tongue cancer but proceeded to get progressively worse – it was horrible. So the cause is important to me.

And I had a particular affection for Relay as well: It was one of about three good things about my three-year term in Henderson. (The other two were a local grocery store and a fried fish restaurant – that probably tells you about all you need to know about those days.)

So I’m waxing on about Relay, etc., getting my speech on and all, and it occurs to me I need to close with a joke (talking about Relay can get pretty intense). I’m running through my material as I’m talking, and nothing’s really coming to mind. Then I hit on it: my T-shirt. “I’m so committed to Relay,” I say, “that I’ll even wear this fire-engine red shirt. That’s something you’ll never see otherwise from this Tar Heel.” It broke the tension, and I got out right then. Success!

******

Speaking of nameplates, we’re getting new ones at work. So the people-in-charge-of-nameplates sent around an email to tell us of this fact and to ask us a question: What would be your theme song.

I considered the question and did what I do. I asked Karen for a suggestion. She came up with a winner right off the bat. More on that later. I’ve said quite often that my life is a song and blogged previously about it here and here, if not elsewhere.

So I posed the question to my Facebook friends, allowing the following choices:

  • Forever Young (Bob Dylan). Pro: I love this song, and it plays well with working at RV, where pretty much everyone is really young. It would signify my commitment to stay at least young at heart. Con: There’s a pretty awful Rod Stewart song with the same title and I didn’t want anyone to be confused about my loyalties.
  • Dazed and Confused (Led Zeppelin): ‘Nuff said.
  • Yesterday’s News (Whiskeytown): Because I’m not in the news biz anymore.
  • Dancing Days (Led Zeppelin): See the second of the posts I just linked to.
  • Gimme Three Steps (Lynyrd Skynyrd): Like Sherlock Holmes and The Giant Rat of Sumatra, the world is not ready for this tale – and the statute of limitations has yet to expire.
  • Theme from Shaft (Isaac Hayes): Karen’s initial suggestion, and hands down, the winner. Love the music a lot, And like Shaft, I’m “a complicated man” and other parts of the lyrics, too. I’ll let you figure that one out.

“There are many here among us who feel that life is but a joke. But you and I, we’ve been through that, and this is not our fate. So let us not talk falsely now, the hour is getting late.”

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