Tuesday, June 19, 2007

'Tis the Season...

Of course there are a million Tall Ships™ docking right now in your own backyard, with pirates playing anachronistic Appalachian music and pretending to teach "trainees" how to sail. And, they're charging $25 a pop to let you wander around on deck barely acknowledged while the trustafarian "crew" stands around mocking your sandals and making up answers to your serious seamanship queries. Answers with words like "forebreastle" or "following beamblow reach." I'm dockside this season.
It's time once again to buy those tax-deductible dinner tickets and support local cultural organizations. Yes, I do see my share of calla lily centerpieces and silent auction items involving baskets, local wine, and some private something-or-other. My too-polite "age before beauty" aesthetic always gets the better of me, and I rarely win any of these items. Besides, do I really need a 39-pound soapstone bowhead whale? I know: "It's for a good cause."
At a recent fundraiser for an irrelevant "house museum," I sat at the same table as a bunch of million-dollar donors. They weren't million-dollar donors to this particular organization; they were donors to the local hospital. There are basically two kinds of givers: the ones who donate to after-school art programs, and the ones who fund cardiac units. Both are civic-minded, generous, and frequently thoughtful people, and don't follow any particular demographic. I have great friends in both groups, but I really don't see the need to put a plaque over a door that you'll probably only see on the way in because your eyes won't be open on the way out. Frankly, I don't want their names to be the last thing I see. Sheesh, can't you give half a million to someplace I'd like to go now?
Conversation can get strained around a table awaiting a poorly-timed dinner, so caveat eator. A lousy caterer can ruin a lovely evening. While waiting for the over-matched staff to escort the entree (who the hell serves pork at one of these things?), some partygoers may feel obliged to float unpolished trial proposals. A certain septuagenarian asked me, "Where'd yer money come from?" I'm no stranger to impolite questions -- usually asked by children and usually having something to do with inopportune noises -- but this threw me, particularly coming from a guy who looked as though he was about to lick the vinaigrette off the salad plate to get his money's worth. How could I explain a lifetime of three jobs at a time, careful investments, a "reduce-reuse-recycle" sensibility and stingy renunciation of crass commercialism? I conceded, almost truthfully, that it came from:

(Don't watch more than 20 seconds. I warned you.)

And don't be dissuaded from attending non-profit fundraisers. They are generally enjoyable affairs, with open bars and some type of music, and always good for people-watching. Of course, it's a lot of fun if you don't end up having the kind of conversation I had last weekend. Beside the far-too personal smalltalk, which can be avoided if all your friends sit at the same table. It's really a matter of off-handedness. Personal questions, particularly of economic status, birthright, or history of STDs, should be avoided. Stick to the shallow end of the discourse pool. You can easily embarrass yourself by admitting that you like Lou Rawls. Anywhere. But don't start singing the Cake version of that Gloria Gaynor tune when the GB band decides to cut loose from the Gershwin/Porter/Kahn medley. But then: Open bar.


Large said...

Who's resume is compleat without some time spent in in some Sunny Ole Flori-biean Key ,

should have told the olde "something or other" something like you were the :

10.Gatekeeper to the Dreamworld yov'e been waiting for

9.Trimmer at the bone orchard..

8.Kevorkian's inventory control specialist

7.Tombstone pinstriper ( how artistic is that ?)

6.Subteranian truffle inspection supervisor

5.Tux fitter to the recently deceased,...my card,.see you soon

4.Maitre'D of the wooden Waldorf

3.Researcher for ConAg Foods division (think Soilent Green)

2.Groundskeeper of the Elysian Fields

1. I'm THIRDMATE of the Stygian Ferry we sail at Dusk .......

Yeah, sometimes I is morbid,..but it keeps us human


P.S. you could have also told him not to worry ,.vinegar contains formaldehyde so he should preserve well....

ThirdMate said...

I'll say it again: I do so treasure our friendship.

Karie said...

I am trying not to giggle TOO loudly in-the-middle-of-the-night!

Nice work, boys.

It is a more enjoyable evening funraiser already.