I’ve been asked, once again, to participate in two upcoming community events that A) make me proud to be a part of Rome and Floyd County, and B) increase my annoyance with my archrival and Rome city manager, Sammy Rich.

The first of these events is “An Evening on the Runway” which takes place Feb. 24 at the DeSoto Theatre. Y’all may remember that I wrote a column last year about “modeling” in this show. And by modeling I mean standing next to tall, statuesque attractive people who were actually modeling while I just looked ridiculous.

The event is a fundraiser for the Historic DeSoto Theatre Foundation. All these local businesses and boutiques are involved and a whole bunch of well-known Romans will be up on stage modeling clothes and jewelry from local businesses. So it really isn’t just a fashion show. It’s an entertaining community event because most of us who are in it should never be allowed on a fashion runway.

Here’s how the ridiculousness has already started. A few weeks ago, many of us “models” were asked to show up for a photo shoot to promote the event. It was at the airport, and they had a bunch of fancy private planes and expensive cars as props for the shoot. I am completely out of my element in this situation so I’m just standing around making stupid jokes while we wait for the photographer.

Well, lo and behold, who should come strutting in like a dang peacock but Samuel Rich himself. Decked out in very fancy clothes from a local men’s boutique, you woulda thought he was the King of England the way he swaggered into the place. I hate to admit that the clothes he was wearing looked really good and fit him well. But of course I wasn’t going to tell him that ’cause it would have made his head too big to fit in that airplane hangar.

For a few shots, the photographer wanted me and Lord Rich to exit a private plane onto a red carpet and walk toward a very, very expensive looking sports car. We were supposed to look like we were coming back from a trip.

Now y’all do understand that there is nothing natural about this situation for me. I’m in clothes I can’t afford, surrounded by things I can’t afford, and I’m supposed to look like it’s natural to me. I’m nervous and sweating and trying not to look too awkward. I turn to look back at his excellency and what do I see? He’s standing tall and proud at the top of the airplane’s staircase looking like a prince surveying his domains. I mean he was completely at ease. It drove me crazy. Here I was, sweat dripping from my armpits, trying to smile for the camera and Sammy looked fresh and relaxed. I hated him more at that moment than I ever have and secretly hoped he’d trip and fall down those stairs right onto his face. But he didn’t.

Anyway, the photo shoot was a success — other than my sweaty, puffy face that looked like I had just done meth — and soon, the photos of all the models were circulating on social media to spread the word about the upcoming show.

An “Evening on the Runway” will take place on Feb. 24 at the DeSoto Theatre. Tickets start at $17 for the very entertaining show and there’s a Patron’s Party ticket for $40 if you wanna dress up and eat tiny bits of food with fancy people before the show. Tickets are available online at www.historicdesototheatre.org. All the proceeds go to restoring the beautiful, historic DeSoto. I hope to see y’all there. I’ll be the one sweating profusely and trying not to fall flat on my face.

The other community event coming up is a murder-mystery dinner on March 16. Notable Rome residents such as Scotty Hancock, Clem Slack, Mark Webb, Rhonda Wallace, Robert Smyth, Elaine Snow and Dr. Brad Bushnell will all be characters from the roaring ’20s who’ll entertain dinner guests while a murder takes place.

This event benefits Floyd Against Drugs.

What’s so cool about this event is that if you buy a ticket and come to dinner at the Forrest Place Ballroom, you’ll be entering the Grand Gatsby Speakeasy. All the cast members will be in period costume. While you eat and socialize with other guests, we the actors will be walking around and interacting with you. Clem Slack is a vivacious flapper girl, while Robert Smyth will play a gangster goon. Scotty Hancock’s character is Hershey Bar. He’s a former pro baseball player who still wears his old uniform and is somehow mixed up with all these gangsters and flappers.

During dinner a murder will take place, and it’ll be up to you, the guests, to figure out who the murderer is. Even we the cast members don’t know for sure.

This will be my third event of this kind, and it’s a whole lot of fun. I promise you’ll get a great dinner out of it and will be thoroughly entertained by the antics of the whole cast since none of us have any acting training whatsoever.

Once again, I’ll be the one sweating profusely and trying not to say anything stupid since there’s no script. We’re winging the entire thing.

PLUS you’ll be doing something good for our community by helping to fund Floyd Against Drugs programs.

The “Murder at the Grand Gatsby Speakeasy” will take place March 16 starting at 6 p.m. at the Forrest Place Ballroom. Tickets are $35 and must be purchased in advance. They’ll be sold through March 12. You can get ’em online at www.FloydAgainstDrugs.com or by calling 706-291-5187.

Severo Avila is Features Editor for the Rome News-Tribune.

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