Friday, May 20, 2011

“Roundtable, Restrained”

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 Irish coffee. She was a vision of mature womanhood, dressed in emerald green and Hilltopper red.

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

Mack Prindl, editor of the Parkman Register, sat stiffly upright in his chair. A yellow ‘Terrible Towel’ filled his mouth. He struggled to speak. "Donn likee thiss…”

Carrie shook her head. “What happened to him?”

Martha Ann Reale of the Newbury Siren-Monitor laughed out loud. “In keeping with the NFL lockout, Mack has been restrained from commenting on his beloved Pittsburgh Steelers.”

Ezekiel Byler-Gregg of the Burton Daily Bugle laughed out loud. “Maybe now we can discuss real local issues for a change!”

I bowed my head. “Surely there is a better way to keep him off the subject of pro football…”

Carrie gasped audibly. “This is crazy. Somebody take that out of his mouth!”

Mack bounced in his chair. “Yuhhhh!”

“Really,” I continued. “Give the guy a break.”

“Pringle doesn’t deserve a break!” Martha Ann hissed.

“Thhhuss Prindlllll,” Mack wheezed through the towel.

“Anyway, I’d like to talk about our failed school levy in Chardon,” Carrie said.

“Levy, schmevy!” Martha Ann cackled. “All my readers are talking about the raid to get Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan.”

“Hey, that isn’t exactly a local story,” I cautioned.

“True,” Ezekiel thundered. “But Martha Ann is right. Everybody is talking about that event.”

“Okay,” Carrie agreed. “Let’s give thanks today for the brave work of our soldiers and intelligence operatives.”

“And for the courage of our great president!” Martha Ann cheered.

Ezekiel rubbed his eyes. “Not to mention his quiet strategy of continuing the policies of George W. Bush…”

“WHAT???” Martha Ann squawked.

“Thasss nutttsss,” Mack slobbered.

“No, Zeke is right on target,” Carrie smiled. “Mr. Obama retained Robert Gates as Secretary of Defense. He kept the Guantanamo Bay prison open after years of promising its closure. And he let the CIA maintain an active role in the war against terrorism. All of that yielded the capture and elimination of Bin Laden.”

Martha Ann shuddered in her chair. “You sound jealous to me!”

“Not jealous,” Ezekiel huffed. “Amused by the irony, perhaps.”

Carrie smoothed the brim of her hat. “Irony, indeed!”

“We’ll see how loud you talk in 2012!” Martha Ann shrieked.

I took a long sip of coffee. “Honestly, it doesn’t matter who wins or loses politically. We were able to complete the job of hunting down Bin Laden. Justice was served.”

A hush overtook the group.

“I say ‘amen’ to that,” Carrie observed, after a moment of silence.

Ezekiel nodded his head. “Amen!”

“Amen, amen, amen!” Martha Ann repeated.

“Mmmmunn!” Mack mumbled.

“So, are you going to pull that towel out of Mack’s mouth?” I wondered.

Ezekiel frowned. “Nah. This is the best roundtable meeting we’ve ever had.”

Carrie went red with embarrassment. “Please, friends. Can’t we show him some mercy?”

“We got none during the NFL playoffs,” Martha Ann said with a smirk.

“But… will there be any pro football this year?” I mused.

“The revenue involved is incredible,” Carrie reflected.

“About nine billion dollars,” Ezekiel said.

“Amazing, isn’t it?” Martha Ann complained. “We live in a nation where schools have to beg for funds, while sports franchises and millionaire athletes are literally drowning in money…”

Carrie sighed loudly. “One might question the priorities of our society.”

“Nohhhht meee!” Mack muttered through his towel.

“It’s the free market at work,” I said unemotionally. “If people didn’t support the league, that nine billion wouldn’t exist.”

Ezekiel chuckled to himself. “Rodney is right. If we want to point fingers… then they should be directed at us. We make this kind of greed possible. Face it. America loves the game of football.”

Carrie finished her Irish coffee.

“Amen!” she said at last.

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