I have made it through the first two months of 2009 without being tainted by scandal, sparking a controversy, or otherwise stumbling into the glaring spotlight of unwanted public scrutiny. Month by month, it’s a good feeling, but I can’t get careless and let my guard down.
In this era of instant news cycles, global media coverage, and the unrestricted blogosphere, it’s getting more and more difficult to lurk anonymously in the background of the daily drama known as Modern America. Freelance paparazzi are everywhere.
Any person walking around with a wireless phone could secretly record me having a nasty encounter with a hostile chimpanzee or other exotic pet and post it on YouTube, where I would become an instant target for thousands of online commentators.
It’s impossible to measure the happiness I experienced when the new season of “Dancing With the Stars” was announced and my name wasn’t included. Not that anyone ever said I was under consideration, but the mere idea of being selected overwhelms me with horror.
I did attempt dancing once, back in 7th grade. After spending many youthful Saturdays watching “American Bandstand,” I decided to try out my moves during one of the noontime sock hops. But after a few minutes, somebody tapped me on the shoulder and said, “You’re not dancing. You’re jogging in place.”
It’s still my favorite technique, and showing it on national TV would cause irreparable damage to my reputation and also harm the country. Goodbye Neilsen ratings. I never want to know ye.
Another source of immense pleasure is my total lack of involvement with disgraced financier Bernard Madoff and impeached Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich. I’m positive we’ve never had a conversation or any sort of interaction that would bring reporters stampeding onto my front porch seeking some new tidbit to spin or speculate about.
My only real worry is that Bernie or Blago will dial a phone number incorrectly someday and connect with my line by accident. If that ever happens, I’m just going to shout, “No, I do NOT have any Chef Boyardee” and hang up.
I know that my efforts to maintain a low profile and project an image of near-total insignificance are paying off when I look out the kitchen window and see a door-to-door salesperson look at my house from the sidewalk, pause for a moment, and then keep on walking.
Even better was the incident a few years ago when the homeowner from two doors down came up to me while I was taking a nighttime stroll and shined his flashlight in my face. “Sorry, just checking,” he said. “My wife saw you and thought a prowler was casing the neighborhood.”
I didn’t mind. Gliding along indistinctly through life is one of the things I do best. A friend once told me, “You’re the kind of person who spends a lot of time below the radar.” The radar can’t touch me. I’m below the sonar.