Tag Archives: Cauliflower

Rockin’ Rotary

19 Apr

Ten years ago, I was accepted into the local Rotary Club. I am not one of the more active members – alas, I will never be asked to serve on the board of directors or be an officer – but I show up at most meetings and pay my dues on time. That’s more than can be said for many members.

Those of us who show up on a consistent basis take part in a meeting format that has been in place for a hundred years. We don’t┬áhave secret handshakes or top-secret rituals like the Masons, and we definitely aren’t trying to control the world. However, there are Rotary guidelines (at least I think they are guidelines that all clubs follow) that we adhere to on a weekly basis.

First, we eat. This would probably be my favorite part if the food was any good. We meet at the local country club, and the cuisine leaves a lot to be desired. I understand that it is tough to cook for a large crowd, but there must be some tricks to the trade. The only trick that our kitchen has is mixing things up with cauliflower. We went two years with cauliflower every week. Cauliflower and carrots. Cauliflower and corn. Cauliflower and peas. They must have gotten an extra shipment or something.

The meat is not much better. The meatloaf is a little weird, but you know how meatloaf is – good or bad and no in between. We all look forward to the days of something fried. Everything tastes alright when fried.

After the meal, if you can call it that, the meeting officially starts. We are called to order because there is a lot of banter around the room, and everyone has to stand. Here, we pray and place hands over hearts for the Pledge of Allegiance.

(Sidenote: I have been placing my hand over my heart for the Pledge as long as I can remember. However, I don’t remember this always being the practice for the National Anthem. Politicians get in trouble for not doing it during the song, but I don’t think anyone did it until 9/11. If I am wrong, then let me know.)

We don’t sit down after the Pledge. Instead, we grab the songbooks for a rousing concert of a couple of tunes. It’s usually something like “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad” or “Home on the Range”. Imagine a bunch of grown people singing that. Then, the Sergeant of Arms tells a few jokes and introduces the guests. At one time, we had a pretty hot woman (at least I thought she was pretty hot) serve in this role and tell bawdy jokes. The old men really liked that. But, some preachers complained, and she was asked to stop. Preachers always know how to mess up a good time. She doesn’t come to Rotary anymore.

Once the fun and frivolity is over, it is time for the guest speaker. Sometimes it is interesting, and sometimes it is not. It’s educational, anyway.

So, that’s the short version of a Rotary meeting. Believe me, it seems a lot longer in person. I don’t really see the point of it all, but there is one good thing about it. The conversation during mealtime is always entertaining. You see, Rotary is like church where people sit in the same seat every time. If someone else is sitting there, then upset feelings will no doubt follow. I was raised as a good Baptist, so it is natural for me to sit in the back. That way I can skip out unnoticed. The problem is that my whole table skips out, and it’s noticeable. We are the slacker table in the Rotary mindset but not slackers for real. While others sit around for a couple of hours, we actually get up and go to work. Or, pretend like it.

Our table usually includes a college professor (me), a bread salesman, a convenience store owner, a chiropractor, a lady who used to cook at the country club but is retired (she complains about the food, too), a bank president who works more on his hair than he does at the bank, and a retired veteran who thinks he is funny but really isn’t. We talk local issues but spend most of the time picking on each other.

Folks at other tables include the aforementioned preachers, a body shop owner, one of the Cracker Barrel founders, other people from my school, and people who have been pillars of the community longer than I have been alive.

Overall, I guess I like being in Rotary. The meetings are a little goofy, but tradition often is. Mainly, I like it because I have met a lot of people who I consider friends. However, I haven’t learned to like cauliflower.