Sunday, July 25, 2010

“Roundtable Return”


c. 2010 Rod Ice
All rights reserved
(7-10)





The morning was hectic at McDonald’s on Water Street in Chardon.

I arrived before eight o’clock, carrying my laptop computer. It was time for the monthly gathering of our Geauga Writers’ Roundtable.

In attendance would be many noted wordsmiths from around the county. I felt a tingle of excitement while enjoying my first cup of coffee. Notepads were strewn over the tabletop. We chatted briefly about our Facebook accounts and cell-phone plans.

Then, the meeting commenced.

Carrie Hamglaze, a local figure of renown, was already at our table with a cup of mocha cappuccino. She was a vision of modern womanhood, dressed in Irish green and Hilltopper red.

“Dear friends,” she began. “Allow me to bring this event to order!”

Everyone stopped talking.

“First, let’s discuss the proposed school levies for November,” she said dramatically.

Martha Ann Reale of the Newbury Siren-Monitor spoke up quickly. “Great topic! I think it is so important to support education, no matter what the cost…”

Mack Prindl of the Parkman Register interrupted her statement, rudely.

“What about LeBron?” he half-shouted. “That’s the story everyone who reads my paper is talking about!”

Carrie was stunned. “What? In Parkman?”

Ezekiel Byler-Gregg of the Burton Daily Bugle agreed. “In my neck of the woods, too. And everywhere around the county.”

Our moderator huffed with disbelief.

“What do you think, Rodney?” she asked impatiently.

I took a deep breath. “Maybe it’s unfortunate, but they are right. Everyone is buzzing about the defection of LeBron James.”

Carrie nearly spilled her cappuccino.

“I fear we are losing our focus here!” she chirped.

Ezekiel pounded the tabletop. “Thunderation! It might just be the biggest story of 2010, locally or nationally.”

Martha Ann shuddered. “This is silly! You’ve become caught up in the hype.”

“Maybe,” Mack snorted. “But there’s a hometown slant on this. You can’t deny it. LBJ turned on his own family. That’s big news, anywhere.”

“Umm, like you being a Steeler fan from Geauga?” I observed with a grin.
Guffaws filled the air.

“Hold on, Mister Freeze!” Mack exploded. “My team has six Superbowl rings…”

“We hear about that every month,” Ezekiel yawned.

“Opinions vary,” I said. “But LeBron is definitely being talked about. In our county, around Ohio, and everywhere.”

Carrie gestured for attention. “Pro sports is entertainment at best. We have real issues to consider. What about our county budget woes? What about historic preservation? What about the fall election?”

“That’ll sell papers in a slow week,” Mack groaned. “But right now, every letter to the editor is about LeBron!”

Martha Ann gasped out loud.

“It’s true,” Ezekiel nodded. “My readers think that if King James had grown up here, in our county, his mindset would be different. He would care more about his legacy as a favorite son.”

“Yes!” Mack yelped.

“But as a Steeler fan, you certainly don’t reflect that line of reasoning,” I said.

Ezekiel laughed. “Actually, he’s right, Mr. Roethlisberger!”

“SIX SUPERBOWL RINGS!” Mack bellowed.

“Everyone, please come to order!” Carrie shouted in protest.

Silence filled the room.

“None of this should have been a surprise,” I reflected. “From his Yankees hat at the Indians game, to hanging out on the Cowboys sideline during a contest with the Browns… he’s never really cared much about Ohio.”

Martha Ann frowned. “But is that fair, Rodney? Isn’t it really just a business decision on his part?”

“If he’d wanted to leave, that could’ve happened without all the hoopla,” Ezekiel said. “Instead, he squeezed out every bit of coddling and attention we were willing to give…”

“I’m moved to think of John Kennedy’s most famous quote,” I reflected. “‘Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.’ A guy like Bernie Kosar grew up here and put his heart and soul into giving back to the region. LeBron grew up here and has put his heart and soul into something less noble - achieving the full measure of self-gratification available to a league superstar. Different men, different paths toward success.”

“Amen!” Ezekiel agreed.

Carrie raised her hand. “Okay. We’ve resolved that even in Geauga County, people are fascinated by LeBron James. Now, can we discuss more serious matters?”

“Finally!” Martha Ann cheered. “In November, I feel citizens have a choice between…”

“Let’s talk about Chardon Pizza,” Ezekiel interjected. “Did you know they are a locally-owned business where the food is made with love?”

Mack rubbed his eyes. “Made with love?”

“Zeke is right,” I said. “Look on their website.”

“With love?” he repeated, louder than before.

“With love for the community,” I exclaimed. “With love for the culinary arts. With love for those who live and learn life lessons while working in their pizzeria.”

“Very creative,” Ezekiel chuckled. “I like that.”

Carrie spilled her cappuccino.

“Are you boys ever going to get serious?” Martha Ann whined.

Mack looked at his watch. “I’d seriously like to get some breakfast!”

Our chairs skidded backward, in unison.

“Meeting adjourned!” Carrie proclaimed. “I’m ready for a fresh McGriddle!”

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