I am the president of the Lion's Club.
Yeah. Let me give you just a minute to let that sink in.
It's not like I wanted to be president of or even wanted to join the club. But the third time Jo, the county treasurer, hit me up about it, she caught me in a weak moment and I said yes.
Joining a small town civic club is much the same as joining a small church and my warm body was quickly foisted into a leadership/grunt-work position. I started at the bottom of the hierarchical totem pole last year and this year made a miniscule upward movement before Tommy, the club treasurer and the only person who did any of the administrative work, decided to retire. Once the dust settled - boom! - I'm president.
Every Thursday we gather at the Cassey Event Center for lunch. The center is a fellowship hall without a church attached. We share Juanita the Cook with the Rotary Club. The Rotarians rotarianate on Wednesdays.
There are a couple of people who belong to both clubs. One out of an abundance of civic pride and one for business contacts as well as fiscal responsibility since dues for both clubs are cheaper than eating out for those two meals each week.
Club meetings are basically of just me and a bunch of old guys having lunch and listening to someone talk about something. Sometimes I learn stuff. Sometimes I don't. There are actually three female members including me. One is the local CPA. She's too busy to make more than a handfull of meetings a year. The other owns an important retail business in the community.
The business owner usually makes only the last half of the meeting. She works long hours and is very busy and she normally has to eat on the run. When I first joined the club I was appalled with how the men treated her. They acted as if they could barely tolerate her - ignoring her suggestions or blatantly dismissing them.
Their attitude really bothered me. I found it to be disrespectful and rude. I tried to cultivate a relationship with her myself, letting her know I valued her input. Now a couple of years later I find that I...barely tolerate her - ignoring her suggestions or blatantly dismissing them.
A more regular attendee is the insurance agent who likes to eat cheap and belongs to both clubs. He is also a big wig in the Llano Estacado Honor Flight. It's a veteran's program that flies aging vets to Washington DC to see monuments to their dead compatriots and absolutely nothing else, evidently. It's sort of a big deal. He is very, very proud of this. He mentions it rather a lot.
Since most Thursdays it's just me and the old guys, I have to entertain myself at these meetings. In the interests of same, I've started a drinking game. Any time Mr. Insurance can deviate a conversation into discussion of the Honor Flight, I chug whatever is remaining in my glass of tea.
I've drunk a lot of tea.
Jimmy is the multi-club member who is simply awash with civic pride. His father actually started the Lion's Club in 1928.
Jimmy is 94 years old. He kind of bullies us all into being better people, but he's disgusted by the lack of participation of the younger generations. Jimmy is used to doing business in the Mad Men era and before. Back when everyone had a secretary and a wife at home, there was a lot more inclination to civic involvement.
Jimmy still has a powerful personality but at age 94 he is deaf as a post and nowadays his only job is to pray at our meetings. There are a couple of reasons for this, one being that when called on he can deliver a flowing and flowery invocation.
The main reason for his status as chief benedictor is that he knows the spot int he program where the prayer always happens. He can't hear much of anything, especially not female voices. Apparently my voice is stereotypically female and even though he can't hear a word I'm saying, he knows when I look at him, following the pledge of allegiance, he's on.
At that point, Jimmy totters to his feet, grasps the handles of his walker and yells.
I kid you not. He yells.
"MAY WE PRAY?!!"
It reverberates. Dogs begin to howl outside. Dishes quake in the kitchen and Juanita grabs the tea pitcher that someone set too close to the edge of the counter.
"MAY WE PRAY?!!"
Richter scales record a momentary blip from two states over. The steeple on the Baptist church teeters just a bit and windshield cracks widen and spread all over town.
"MAY WE PRAY?!!"
We damn well pray.