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Advertise on the Tentacle

May 6, 2007

New Experiences, Old Needs

Tom McLaughlin

Humor by Tom McLaughlin

Have you ever been at one of those functions where you absolutely did not belong? I was invited to a fundraiser where the minimum donation was $5,000 and the pay back included a dinner with someone famous.

I have never had an extra $50, let along an extra five grand. I received the invite through the auspices of a fellow here at the beach. I thought he was a crazy old fool. He planted flowers, usually wearing one of those cone shaped Chinese rice field working hats.

While walking the dog, I always stopped and admired his garden. Sometimes he was yelling at a neighbor across the street who wouldn't let him throw his trash in the dumpster. Apparently, they had been feuding for a number of years and the neighbor has a fondness for drink. "He starts each day by pouring vodka over his corn flakes each morning," or so I was told.

The gardener asked me if I wanted to go a party and I said yes, as having said no would have been an obvious insult. We all have been in that position before. The summons came in full color, engraved with an RSVP return envelope. I marked it on my calendar, sent back the confirmation and promptly forgot about it.

We arrived at the hotel dressed in my $79-on-sale-at-Boscov's sport coat, my tie from Goodwill and dress shoes that have not been worn since the last funeral. I had subscribed to Esquire magazine on a special offer, two years for $10, and wore my tie loose with the "I-just-got-off-work look." This was the fashion in the ads and for once I wanted to look at least halfway "IN."

Everybody else had the Esquire look. Not the tie ajar fashion, but the $3,000 coats, the $500 ties and the expensive shoes with the tassels on them. I was warmly welcomed but with the "how-the-hell-did-he-get-an-invitation" stare. My girlfriend is drop dead gorgeous and I also received the "why-the-hell-is-she-with-him" once over.

I had expected dinner, as the invitation stated 6-8 p.m. which I though was mealtime. But they only had these waiters and waitresses gliding through with small tidbits of food on trays. I tried to raid one by grabbing a dozen or so of these morsels but usually received the condescending look from the server who makes more money than I do.

My friend was there dressed like the King of Moldavia, having lost the wonderful roughness of the garden. He took me by the arm and introduced me to a few folks and I stood in a circle listening to the conversation. The topic was vacations and listened about the places I had only read about, Sardinia for one.

I heard about first-class travel, which hotel had the best suites, and, of course, the golf courses. When it was my turn, I spoke of my impending trip to North Borneo and my upcoming work with orangutans and proboscis monkeys. (This is true, but more on that later). Altruism, the physical kind like Habitat for Humanity, is totally out of their range of thought.

These people believe in writing a check and hoping all the unpleasant things will go away. They were mildly interested wondering where the closest Hilton was and hadn't a clue about longhouses, learning another language and the social habits of endangered species. They then went on to the next person, who voiced an area with which they were familiar.

I met the "somebody famous" but did not recognize him or the name. Something to do with Wall Street.

After a while, I had had it with this bunch as my stomach was rumbling. I grabbed one of those children's tea set plates and piled it high with crab something. After consuming five or six of those, I emptied the next tray, which wasn't hard to do, and wolfed down Alaska salmon. The waiters were not happy, but I didn't care. Satiated, we departed in mid-flow thanking the host, at least I think he was the host, could have been the butler, for the invite.

My neighbor went back to his eccentric ways, the sport coat hangs in the closet and I wear my tie in the normal fashion.

To quote a famous philosopher:

"I yam what I yam" said Popeye the Sailor Man! Toot Toot!

And I yam glad of that.

Yellow Cab
The Morning News Express with Bob Miller
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