So here it is. Week Of. Right around Sunday at about 4:30 p.m. my mouth went dry and my stomach dropped to my feet as I realized that the next day was Monday, which was only about half a minute from Friday, Aug. 16. The Big Dance is only days away, about 72 hours from now. Today we start rehearsals, and the rest of the week is spent getting waxed and spray-tanned and plucked and sprayed and spanxed and God knows what else these people do on a regular basis.

Last Saturday was my last official training session with Fotis the Terrible who, as it turned out, was really Fotis the Wonderful—he made me remember how much better I feel when I exercise—and how I do not want to go back to just thinking about it instead of doing it. These are my last dance lessons with James, too, and that makes me sad. Who gets to spin around the dance floor with an elegant (and very funny) handsome young guy in the middle of a Wednesday afternoon? Does life get much better?

As for my co-conspirators, everyone is well adjusted and happy and cool as a cucumber. All of them seem oddly collected and relaxed, which I find nothing short of amazing, if not a little creepy. MacDiarmid says that compared to her life, this dance is a cakewalk. Chris Palermo says he is just fine, and Robyn Nassetta is probably giving Len Goodman lessons about now. Gary Collins has turned into a veritable burlesque star and Brockelman has never had one second of self-doubt. Dardano is smiling like a Cheshire cat and Occhigrossi has her poker face on.

They are all ready, and they have all worked hard for this. I’m glad I got to be one of them this year.

I’m strapping on my shoes now; we’ll be going to dress rehearsal soon. And what a show. More importantly, what a great reason to have a show. You can almost hear the music already — and the sound of all those donations coming in — money that is going to send deserving kids to college, money that is changing lives right now.

Makes me feel like dancing.