So yesterday I had the opportunity to attend a Rotary luncheon. Three Big Foot students were invited to talk a little about themselves, and they needed a ride. I got an undercooked pork chop out of the deal, so it was definitely worth it. Anyway, here's a short running diary of the event:
11:30 We board the school Suburban and head to Abbey Springs. On the radio: "Honky Tonk Badonkadonk," by Trace Adkins. I wonder how many of the Rotarians would be able to define "badonkadonk." (And yes, according to cowboylyrics.com, that's how you spell it.)
11:40 We arrive, somewhat uncertain of where we're supposed to be. We enter the Yacht Club door, but it looks kind of empty except for an old guy in an ill-fitting Cosby sweater and another guy that looks like a magician (white dress shirt, black leather vest). Magician asks if we're here for the Rotary meeting. Indeed we are. He points us to our table and says that we can "dig in" whenever we'd like. Then he pulls a quarter out of my ear.
11:42 Since no one else is here, we feel a little uncomfortable starting to eat, so the students all talk about how nervous they are to speak in front of all of these people. I tell them it's not that big a deal. If they do a good job, however, they might get $4,000. (The Rotary sponsors one of the big scholarships on Honor Night.) No pressure though.
11:46 People are starting to show up, so we head to the buffet table. On the menu: salad (lots of mushrooms and big cucumbers, so that's a plus), breadsticks (not warm), rice, green beans & carrots (surprisingly tasty), and pork chops with baked apples (very rubbery; might give us all salmonella). Unsweetened iced tea to drink. Adequate meal, but I'm definitely thinking about the leftover fried rice that's waiting for me in the teachers' lounge fridge.
11:52 Don't you hate eating in front of people? I mean, not family or friends or whatever, but like students or Rotarians? These cucumbers are huge, so I'm getting Italian dressing on the corners of my mouth with every bite. I can hear myself chewing the pork chop. Good thing I'm not the one who has to impress people here today.
12:00 We're all finished with the meal and making small talk with the Rotarians that keep coming up to us to say hi and tell me that they played baseball for my dad. This is the worst part of functions like this. I barely like talking to my friends, much less people I barely know. And I think that if one more guy asks Jeff McMahon, a senior soccer player at Big Foot, if he played on that great football team this year, he's going to snap. Can't blame him.
12:10 This is where the weirdness begins. The bell is rung (by--I am not making this up--a guy named John Ring), and everyone stands. He says, "'America the Beautiful'--first verse." And we all begin to sing. (How do I know all the words to that song, by the way?) We finish and John the Bell Ringer takes us into the Pledge of Allegiance. When we finish that, one of the Rotarians who happens to be a minister leads us in prayer. The highlight of the day, by far, comes during the prayer when a woman's cell phone goes off and the ring tone is--again, I am not making this up--"Bad Day," by Daniel Powter. Classic. I bet that lady could totally define "badonkadonk." Anyway, the minister is totally flustered. She abruptly ends the prayer and everyone sort of stifles a giggle. This is fun.
12:15 Apparently Cosby Sweater is also the Sergeant-at-Arms (real title), which means that he has to collect these make-believe fines from people because that's how Rotary makes money (at least in part). For example, he fines the "Bad Day" lady because of the interruption. But it's all in fun. These Rotarians know how to have a good time.
12:18 John the Bell Ringer invites me to come up and introduce the kids. I thank the Rotarians for their generosity and tell them that I know all of these kids and they're all great, which they pretty much are, then I let the students take it from there. Their 60-second speeches are pretty generic, but they get the job done. I'm ready to duck out, but I don't suppose that's polite because there's another speaker. Magician comes up and introduces this woman from an organization called Hearts in Motion, which actually sounds pretty cool even though it's not entirely clear what they do. I know it's mostly in Guatemala; I know that you can go down there for 10 days to volunteer for $1,500; and I know that she has a lot of disgusting stories about a girl who was born "without a face," a woman who came to her with a tumor on the side of her head that was "twice the size of her head," and some similarly-inflicted Guatemalan folks. It's pretty sad. Plus there's a video. During the video, I call Deb in the office to tell her I'm going to need a sub because the luncheon is running long.
1:04 The Hearts in Motion lady finishes up and gets a round of applause. (It's not clear why she was speaking. She didn't ask for money or volunteers, and she didn't thank anyone. But she's married to one of the Rotarian's basketball teammates, so that might have something to do with it.) Then Magician cuts her in half.
1:12 We finally get out the door--a lot of these Rotarians like to make small talk with the kids after lunch, which is fine because they're going to end up giving them a lot of money down the line. And they're reasonably nice.
1:13 On the Suburban ride home, the kids are kind of giddy, the way that kids are when they've been nervous about something but now it's over. We get back to school and I head back to English 11 Lit., which is populated by a lot of kids that will never be asked to a Rotary luncheon.
2:07 I duck out of class to go finish off that fried rice.