I finished my crawl back to the stage, stood, gave a bow and exited stage right. The applause was very loud and back stage I was greeted with handshakes and pats on the back. Kevin looked at me and shook his head. “I don’t know how you do that man.” “Its easy Kevin, I just don’t give a damn. I don’t stand a chance against guys like you, so I had fun with it. They won’t forget me.”
It was over and I could relax, I grabbed another beer and watched the rest of the Chip-n-Dale show while I redressed. My some of these men had honest to goodness talent at this kind of entertaining, made me wonder what they did on their days off or before life in the fire service.
Each succeeding performance drove the fever of the spectators higher. Some women began to crowd the catwalk; flashes were going off so quickly a strobe effect blinded me from time to time. I began to fear for the safety of some of those boys. Not really that just sounded good.
It was quite a spectacle and I noted with pride no one stole my idea to crawl, maybe that was stupid. I hadn’t given much thought to the photographic evidence to follow.
We had been advised no decision would be announced that night and results would be relayed personally in the days to follow. We had also been informed that subsequent to the last performance we were encouraged to mingle with our fans, take photos, and just enjoy ourselves.
The past years winners were on hand to autograph their now out of date calendars. What a cruel thing I thought. They had had a year to enjoy all the perks of being in the calendar and now were trotted out like Secretariat for one last photo op before being turned out to pasture.
I must admit they didn’t seem too disappointed to be offered up again. Each had a shirt on with their respective month screened on the front, a stack of calendars with them and lines of women waiting to for a signature and picture, all for a price, it was for the kids after all.
I tried on the roll of shark briefly. I circled the crowd, steely eyed, moving slowly. Then bailed out quickly, first it isn’t in my nature and secondly I found myself insulated by an unseen force field. I wasn’t getting approached by anyone.
Not that I was being ignored, far from it. I could not only feel the eyes on me, hell I was getting stared down. A bit intimidating to say the least. Damn it I’m an alpha male not a mouse. Where was the cheese?
I spied the weather girl in a lose gathering of the judges. I thought I’d get a read on my performance. I meandered her way; she saw me coming and to my relief didn’t seek cover.
“So” I said as I stuck out my hand. “Did you enjoy yourself?” She took my hand, hers was warm. “I did Tim.” She knew my name, plus there. I looked the room over; she followed my gaze over the crowd. “I bet this must be a little surreal for you.”
“Not at all, most of my Friday nights are like this, quite fatiguing actually.” She gave a soft smile. “I was impressed by your… showing.” “Showing?” I said. “That’s what you call it?”
“What would you call it?” God I hate people that ask questions in retort to my questions. “I’m not sure really what to call it.” And I wasn’t. “How about charity? What if I call it charity?”
“In what sense?” Again with the question. “I knew coming into this thing I had a very small chance if any at making the calendar. But it was for the kids, right?” “Right.” She offered. “So that was my contribution, I donated my pride.”
“So you gave up your pride tonight?” “I think I can make that statement safely, come on I crawled down the catwalk on my hands and knees.” She continued to smile but the intent of the smile changed. “I think you were the best of the night Tim. So you aren’t as chiseled as the boys, but your heart is much bigger. I admire what you did, you had fun and wasn’t that the point”
Okay I take back the dumb weather girls stereotype I perpetuated earlier. She was nice, smart, and easy on the eyes. “I’m flattered, thank you.” “Thank you Tim, because this really is for the kids. You guys and gals that do this for us, bring in a lot of money and exposure for the children that ultimately on many occasions you have saved. So have some fun with all this.” She indicated the room full of fans.
“Because whether you make the calendar or not, and I hope you do. You didn’t donate your pride tonight, no, instead you showed it. Heroes are like that.” “Well I’m no hero, I’m just a guy doing his job.” “Then thanks for doing your job Tim, you do it well.”
She had a nice touch and I felt better. We spent most of the night talking, she was truly a bright young woman and I found myself watching the Denver news from time to time to remember that night.
By the way when I got the call a few days later I found out I didn’t make the calendar and through the grapevine I learned I was in fact voted the most entertaining performance of the night, but ultimately not right for a firefighter calendar.
I still eat whatever I want with no regrets.