Darrell Huckaby: Reality TV beckons

Darrell Huckaby

Darrell Huckaby

I got the same email every day for a week. I had been "selected" to audition to become the subject of a documentary/reality television show about a real-life Clark Griswold character. Clark Griswold, you will recall, is the fictional character from the National Lampoon "vacation" movie franchise. Clark always went overboard to provide the "perfect" Christmas or family vacation for his family.

I deleted the emails as soon as they showed up in my inbox, amongst the pleas from my long-lost relatives in Europe who need a few thousand bucks to get home and the barristers in South Africa who need help smuggling a trillion dollars out of the country.

And yet the emails kept coming. Finally I responded to one, saying, basically, I don't know how you got my name or contact number but I don't have any money to invest or donate or spend on your project, so please leave me alone.

The next day I got a call from a lady explaining that they were on the up and up and tried to give credence to her project by explaining they were the company that brought us "Pawn Stars" on the History Channel and an upcoming series called "Lords of War." She told me about their national search teams that are always looking for interesting characters that might hope to become the next Honey Boo Boo.

She didn't say that part about Honey Boo Boo. I just made that part up, but I was still skeptical and Honey Boo Boo was the first person who came to mind. On the other hand, if I landed the part, I thought, I might get to ice skate free next summer at the Olde Town pavilion.

Finally the lady talked me into agreeing to prepare a 10-minute "casting video," in which I was supposed to "project my larger-than-life personality" and "tell a few of my classic stories" so they could evaluate how I would look in front of the camera.

I could tell them how I would look in front of the camera. Fat.

But I decided to play along. I called my buddy John Howington, the only professional television cameraman I know, and talked him into coming over and filming me for a few minutes. He was a tough sell, however. I had to promise him extra peach ice cream at Salem Camp Meeting this summer. Sorry, Daniel Farley and Ken Parkman. American culture was calling.

We made the tape. I told about the time my family -- especially my youngest child, Jenna -- saw all of a grizzly bear we ever needed to see at Yellowstone Park on the Fourth of July one year. Then I explained how a simple Sunday afternoon trip to the store for light bulbs turned into a $50,000 remodeling project at our house. Of course, I stayed true to my longstanding adage: "Never let the truth stand in the way of a good story."

John edited the footage and made me look OK and we sent it to New York, expecting that to be that. Well, hark a lark! Tuesday I got yet another email from the project's production company claiming that "the casting director loved" my video and was "eager to meet me and talk about the proposal."

The next hoop I had to jump through was filling out their "biographical questionnaire." Again, they wanted to "experience my personality" through simple questions.

Full name? "Darrell Lee Huckaby and I was named after THAT Lee and don't care who knows it."

Age? "Eternal, but I arrived in Porterdale on March 10, 1952. Like Peter Pan, I refuse to grow up."

Archetype? "Renaissance man."

My favorite question was "Are you a do-it-yourselfer and, if so, what is your favorite thing about working on projects around the house?"

I enjoyed answering this one. "I went to work in a cotton mill as an over-hauler on my 16th birthday and worked in the mill until I graduated from college. I learned to take apart and rebuild every piece of equipment there was. I could build just about anything and learned to use every tool there is. I didn't enjoy any of it, so when I got married I convinced my wife that I wasn't at all handy and couldn't do anything with tools or fix anything.

"It has worked for 31 years and my favorite thing about projects around the house is watching Lisa and my daughters' boyfriends work on them."

So there you have it. The next step is to visit New York and talk face-to-face with the people funding this would-be television show to find out how much of an idiot I would have to act like to actually be the "real-life Clark Griswold."

I was worried, at first, that such an endeavor might harm my campaign for Congress in 2014. Come to think of it, however, it might help me fit right in.

Darrell Huckaby is a local educator and author. Email him at dhuck008@gmail.com. For past columns, visit www.rockdalecitizen.com or www.newtoncitizen.com.