Being Asked

May 9, 2018–Not again.

Once more, someone was on the phone asking me if I would be in a production. Readers of this column know I am a reluctant thespian. I was not born with the “let’s turn the barn into a theater and put on a show” gene.

Even so, I seem to end up in the footlights on a regular basis, just because… well… just because.

Or maybe because I know that someday they’ll stop asking.

I also used to play in bands. Years ago. Even today, I’ll get the occasional call from a band so desperate they’ll settle for a limping drummer, or a scratchy second fiddle.

It would be easy to say no. And I often do. But I also know that someday they’ll stop asking.

When I used to come home from work, I was exhausted. On my feet all day, teaching grade school kids. Dealing with administration and parents. When I hit that door, my own kids would ask to go for a walk down to the creek to play in the water.

There were nights I didn’t feel like doing it. But I went anyway.

Because I knew someday they’d stop asking.

Then bedtime rolled around. This meant stories. But not just a retread of the three bears or the three pigs (why do all parables come in threes?). No, my kids were spoiled. They wanted an original story. A new one each night. With new characters, new plot, new endings.

You know what? I did it. Every night for years I wrote new chapters for endless tales.

Because I knew someday they’d stop asking.

You’ve been asked, too, I’m sure. To serve on a board. To be an officer. To volunteer. To go to yet another piano/violin/dance recital. You can’t do them all. You know what each obligation entails.

But you know what? Someday, you’ll stop being asked.

I wish I could say I always responded to requests in this manner. And I did for a lot of them. But I remember the times I declined to “do something” I should have done. It might have been a seemingly simple thing like going out to lunch with a tenuously-related visitor, or, heaven forbid, the wife. Or skipping a drink with the guys after a hard day’s work. Staying home, sitting in the porch swing, spinning out a cool beverage, or reading a book sounded so much more enticing than yet another social obligation.

And yet, there have been stretches where I was left alone. The phone stopped ringing. The requests stopped coming.

People stopped asking.

You know what? I didn’t like it. It wasn’t as much fun as I thought it would be.

So now, whenever I am asked to do something, I consciously consider it. I count to 10. I take a few deep breaths. And then, more often than not, I’ll say, sure, why not.

Because someday, for all of us, they’ll stop asking.