Dancing with Melissa


When I see Melissa Gilbert on “Dancing With The Stars” I can’t help but feel a little sad. Because back when they were casting for dancers, I was asked to come to Hollywood to be a practice partner for auditions.

As a Naval Officer, it was a bit intimidating, but as a country music fan I had developed a pretty good ability to kick it on the dance floor, and somehow the word got to the producers of the show that there was a veteran cartoonist who could dance. Apparently they thought it would be a good story line, so I got the call.

I only had a month to practice, so my wife and I hit the local saloons and worked out the kinks. By the time it was time to leave I was ready.

Getting into a studio is somewhat like getting on base. There are lists and ID checks and security guards. And, like some of the bases I have visited, they couldn’t find my name. It took a few phone calls until I got the nod, and before long an intern was escorting me to the practice room.

I had been assigned Melissa Gilbert, the star of “Little House on the Prairie.” I had loved that show, and I’ll admit I was a little nervous to meet the actress we watched grow up on TV. The intern pointed me to a chair and I waited for her to show up.

And waited.

After about two hours I flagged down a stage hand and asked if Melissa was going to show. He looked at me curiously, then told me I was early.

Two days early.

Embarrassed, I looked at the calendar on my iPhone, then realized he was right.

April 1st wasn’t for two more days.


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