Sunday, February 20, 2011

“Roundtable Rowdy”

c. 2011 Rod Ice
All rights reserved

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

I arrived just after eight o’clock, hoping to buy breakfast before the activities began. We had gathered for the monthly meeting of our Geauga Writers’ Roundtable.

In attendance were 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 table by their artificial fireplace. We chatted briefly about Twitter accounts and cell-phone plans. Then, the happening commenced.

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

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

Everyone stopped talking.

“The Roundtable is nearing an anniversary,” she proclaimed. “We have been meeting here for almost two years.”

Cheers echoed throughout the room.

“We have discussed many important issues,” she continued. “Like school funding, election reform, taxation, and community development.”

Mack Prindl of the Parkman Register agreed. “These are all important issues,” he said, plainly.

“Today, I’d like to hear what you think will be the big local stories of 2011,” Carrie continued.

Mack loosened his black-and-gold tie. “Well, the new South Geauga Growth Partnership is drafting a plan to spur business development in my township…”

Martha Ann Reale of the Newbury Siren-Monitor pointed a finger at her journalistic cohort. “Hah! You just want to avoid any mention of the Superbowl!” she hissed. “Loser!”

“Please!” Carrie sputtered. “Let’s stay focused here!”

Ezekiel Byler-Gregg of the Burton Daily Bugle echoed Martha Ann’s sentiment. “Fess up, Prindl. You are just trying to avoid our REAL biggest issue of the day!”

I gestured for attention. “Carrie is right. We need to remember our mission as a group…”

Mack bowed his head. “Thanks, Rod. I think some professionalism is in order here.”

“Hah!” Martha Ann snorted. “It’s time for your comeuppance, Pringle! Loser! Loser!”

“That’s P-R-I-N-D-L!” he growled.

“No,” Ezekiel disagreed. “It’s L-O-S-E-R!”

Carrie was stunned. “Please!” she begged. “Can we talk about local things?”

I gestured for attention once again. “Listen, my column about Danelectro guitars produced a personal response from Howard Daniel, son of the company founder…”

Ezekiel thumped the table with his fist. “Mack has been happy to shoot off his mouth about the Pittsburgh Steelers. Well, their ride is over. Green Bay showed America who is the better team. Admit it, neighbor!”

Carrie was overwhelmed. “Order, please! I call for order here!”

Martha Ann cackled like a sorceress. “I call for Pringle to admit that he’s a loser!”

“Six Superbowl rings!” Mack howled.

“The Packers now have thirteen rings,” Martha Ann squawked in response. “Try to match that, loser!”

I shook my head. “Come on everybody. I like football too, but this is a journalist roundtable. We are supposed to be talking about stories in our newspapers…”

Ezekiel growled like a bear. “Okay, Rod. On my front page will be a feature about the disappearance of Steeler colors in Burton. How about that, huh? Where’d they go? Off to outer space on a UFO? I haven’t seen a team jersey or hat for several days now. Before the Superbowl they were everywhere.”

“So much for true fans supporting their team!” Martha Ann hissed.

Carrie rubbed her eyes. “How about the MoveSmart wellness program in Chagrin Falls? Don’t you think that is a cutting-edge strategy to better the lives of our students?”

“All I know is Big Ben got plenty of exercise running away from the Packers’ Clay Matthews,” Ezekiel huffed. “That kid is just like his father. Remember number 57 for the old Cleveland Browns?”

Mack brightened, suddenly. “You want to talk about losers? The Browns are LOSERS all the way around!”

Ezekiel went red. “Actually, the Browns have eight rings, kiddo.”

Silence filled the room.

“Eight rings?” Mack wheezed. “In what, their bathtub?”

“Actually, Zeke is right,” I agreed. “The Browns have four NFL Championships and four AAFC Championships since their beginning in 1946…”

Martha Ann cackled again. “Take that, loser!”

“Six Superbowl rings!” Mack pleaded, breathlessly.

“Rings, schmings,” Ezekiel said. “Big Ben didn’t exactly look like a champ against the Green Bay defense!”

“Actually, he was throwing interceptions like Brett Favre,” I laughed. “Ironic, isn’t it?”

Mack tossed his coffee cup across the room. “That’s it! I’ve had enough!”

Ezekiel slapped him playfully. “Calm down, buddy. The hurt will fade after awhile. Let it go… football is just a game, remember.”

“A wise sentiment,” I said.

“It’ll fade,” Martha Ann agreed. “But… not today! Right now, you’re a L-O-S-E-R!”

Carrie surrendered at last.

“This meeting is adjourned!” she proclaimed. “Have a great day!”

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