Good soldier that I am, I arise at Oh-Dark-Hundred to prepare myself for a Tuesday morning appearance at a local chamber of commerce, an evil coven of community, business, and government “leaders” whose idea of virtue and a good time starts at 7:30 AM.
I despise meetings like this on so many levels I don’t have enough space to list them, and it’s my blog, where I work with neither a safety net nor an editor.
Chamber meetings combine the worst elements of a praise Jay-sus hootin’ hollerin’ and stampin’-feet revival sessions, and sullen, desperate, dripping-with-disgrace Alcoholics Anonymous gatherings. There’s the plastic sheen of forced fellowship and wishful thinking from the former, and the sullen, I’d rather be dead than here but it’s this or butt-fucked in a prison cell vibe from the latter. Nobody wants to be awake, dressed up, obligated to be charming, positive, and happy to engage strangers at this hour of the day. It’s too early to drink, and too late to go back to bed.
Separated by mere inches, people valiantly attempt to network, breathing second-hand coffee into one another’s’ faces, powdered buffet eggs smeared on their incisors. They hand one another the same business cards each has feigned admiring then tossed out the month before, and the month before that, too. The men try their best to see something — anything — attractive in the women, while the women pity the unseen wives of the businessman whose eyes they avoid.
Interminable presentations are so achingly dull that flies fall from the air, landing lifelessly on cracked plates and stained table cloths. Speaker after speaker arises nervously to identify itself — “Good — good morning. I’m Red Acknoyd , new member here — ha ha! –and I have a can’t stand cream I mean an ice cream stand in the mall….” with all the panache and confidence of a foot fetishist confessing his weakness. You can envision the poor bastard’s financial people pulling his strings and working his mouth like a marionette.
And just for the record, despite the date there was not one single mention of Flag Day, not even during the mandatory kick-off prayer and recitation of the pledge of allegiance, to show that god country, and profitable business are three sides of the same bonfire.
Fortunately, I no longer need to attend these carnivals with any regularity, and given what I do these days I don’t need to duct-tape myself into a suit and tie and shoes and socks. I’ve also learned not to eat anything — stay with just coffee — and never take snubs personally because their origin is the snubbers’ own insecurity and discomfort in a room filled with obsequious lickspittles who look around the room surreptitiously before daring to venture a chuckle at a bad joke.
Four hours into the day and it’s only 9:00 AM. It feels like a day without air. Have a nice week.