It all started about a month ago when one of my colleagues, Hana, came to my cubicle and said, "Stand up." Without really thinking I complied and she snapped a picture, then walked off saying, "Send me your measurements."
Despite the secrecy, I obeyed this particular command, figuring nothing too horrible can happen by giving someone your measurements - except, of course, if that someone is a mortician.
As it turns out, she wanted me to be a model in a TODAY's style segment she produced this morning on: Men's Summer Trends - Do's and Don'ts.
How this happened I don't know. I'm no George Clooney or Derek Zoolander. I have no professional modeling experience, though I will say I held my own as Mr. October in the 2002 Men of the University of Washington calendar (a disappointing month in the annals of timekeeping and wall decor).
Anyway, Hana somehow recruited three more Weekend TODAY staffers who, while otherwise intelligent, agreed to put on unflattering outfits and parade around on national television.
My outfit wasn't so bad - I was in a blue pinstriped suit, a striped shirt and striped tie to demonstrate the harms of excessive striping (It causes blindness).
For the "date" scenario, one of our producers, Russ, wore a seersucker and bowtie to show the fashion "DON'T" of making your date think you've just founded a national fried chicken establishment.
Our 6' 6" writer, Jared, found himself in an inexplicable pair of madras capris, which in actuality were just normal-sized pants for a guy my height, but in either case, a fashion "DON'T", even if we were in Europe.
Finally Durrell, an associate researcher, actually won in all this by being given a coordinated ensemble to start, thus sparing him from the wrath of our fashion panel. This is ironic because Durrell was the most nervous about appearing in this segment, and - preying on this fear one morning - I convinced him for a good 15 seconds that we were actually being outfitted with Teletubby costumes and performing a dance.
But back to the segment. It's actually hard to be a model, and there is definitely more to it than, quoting Derek Zoolander, being "really really ridiculously good looking."
Moments before walking out, the 100 billion cells in my brain were focused solely on two simple tasks: Smile, Don't fall. After the segment, everyone in the control room told me that I didn't smile and looked quite serious, so that's at least 50 billion cells that dropped the ball.
Add to that trying to listen to (or tune out) four well-dressed people talk about you as if you're not even there - not to mention the 4 million people watching - and you start to cut the Fabios of the world a little break.
In the end it was fun being on the other side of the camera and trading the control room for the green room, if only for a morning. I'd do it again if asked (hintHanahint), and the next time I step out on a runway, I won't forget to smile.
I'll probably just fall.