I have a reputation around town. Not that kind of reputation, though the way rumors spread, you never know. Maybe all of those whispers behind my back aren't about overdue fines after all.

But no, I'm talking about a different kind of reputation -- I am professionally shameless.

The kinds of things that would mortify most right-thinking people, and especially men for some reason, I have no problem jumping into. You need someone to wear a clown nose? I'm your guy. You want a terrible British accent in front of a crowd? Sure, I can do that. March around the square shouting Dr. Seuss rhymes? Yeah, I've done that too.

So it came as exactly NO surprise when I was asked to wear a top hat and tails for the Groundhog Day celebration on Feb. 2nd. There is a very short list of people ridiculous enough to combine formal wear and rodents, and I am near the top of that list.

I was a painfully shy child, content to bury myself in stories and solitude. Being the center of attention was about the worst thing I could imagine. In high school, I intentionally skipped speeches in Speech class just because I didn't want to stand in front of the class and speak.

Young Dave would be mortified at what I've become.

But as I grew older, I gained a little more confidence. As a young librarian, I would be asked to teach a class for a handful of new computer users, and I did it! I found that it helped a lot to know the subject that I was speaking about very well. I could hide behind that knowledge, and that made it safer to be the center of attention.

People tell me that when you're dancing, nobody is watching you because they're all too busy dancing as well. People who tell me that are either liars or fools, because I can plainly see how silly all those dancers appear, and it seems that anyone else could too. Maybe if I was an expert dancer, if I knew the subject of dancing as well as I know Microsoft Word, then I could dance with the confidence that I can teach software basics.

But then I started doing storytime. I learned another lesson. People don't always want perfection. People like goofballs. An earnest, yet imperfect performance is sometimes more impressive and more fun than a perfect and untouchable one.

(This advice does not apply to anyone in the medical field. You guys should work toward perfection.)

Knowing that I'm not being asked to be a perfectly authentic historical character, hokey pokey-er, or groundhog handler makes the job a lot easier, more fun, and hopefully more entertaining as well.

If a lack of shame can be a community asset, then I'm glad to serve.