Saturday, August 03, 2013

“Roundtable – A New Member”




c. 2013 Rod Ice
All rights reserved
(7-13)




It was a muggy morning at Geauga Gas & Grub.
Lines of sleepy patrons streamed from the registers. An aroma of coffee and breakfast foods filled the air. By the front windows, a small group huddled over their mobile devices and old-school notepads.
An informal meeting of the Geauga Writers’ Roundtable had been called, to induct a new member. Carrie Hamglaze, former elected official and tennis coach, called the meeting to order.
“Good morning, everyone!” she said, cheerfully.
My eyes did not want to focus. I kept drinking coffee.
“I would like to welcome a new journalist to our group,” Carrie continued. “Sandy Kimball is editor of the revived Claridon Claxon, which just started publishing last month.”
Quiet applause resounded.
“Thank you!” Sandy smiled. She adjusted her horn-rimmed glasses. “It is a pleasure to be back home in Geauga County. I must say that Seattle was quite a place to live and study. Much more enlightened than here. But in the words of Dorothy from ‘The Wizard of Oz’ – there is no place like home.”
Carrie sipped her Irish tea. “Well then, everyone, what are the major stories in your newspapers for next week?”
Martha Ann Reale of the Newbury Siren-Monitor was first to reply.
“I am looking at the issue of school funding,” she said. “With the ongoing struggle of Ledgemont to survive, I ask readers in my township to come up with ideas for our own community.”
Carrie nodded her approval.
“What about you, Rod?” she asked.
My eyes were still blurry. “I have another installment of Geauga Newsroom in the works. More stories from the yonder days. A fascinating task it is to read through these old newspaper reports.”
Mack Prindl, of the Parkman Register, interrupted.
“My readers are interested in the upcoming football season!” he declared. “I am giving them a preview of the preview. What it will be like to visit Steelers training camp in Latrobe, Pennsylvania.”
Carrie shook her head. “Local stories, Mack! Local!”
Sandy shrugged, silently. “I am beginning a series looking at the ongoing national economic recovery, and how we are redeveloping our county.”
“Recovery?” Carrie wondered out loud.
Martha Ann was wide-eyed with disbelief.
“Recovery? Are you serious?” she laughed.
“Most Geaugans would agree that we are on the right track,” Sandy gushed. “I am interviewing people who have directly benefited from the ‘stimulus’ programs. It makes me feel connected to the Roosevelt era.”
Mack shuddered. “Who sponsored you into this group? My readers want the real issues – like whether Big Ben will be as effective in the pocket during the 2013 season!”
My eyes were clear at last. “I think Sandy brings a diversity of opinion to our group... though it seems our economy here has always been safe from most national trends.”
Carrie was nonplussed. “Well, if one is handing out credit, shouldn’t Governor Kasich receive some of that, to be fair?”
Sandy frowned. “He has simply been a beneficiary of the greater good. President Obama is the true hero.”
Martha Ann turned sour. “Please! It is a stretch to say the nation is in recovery. Geauga County may have remained successful, but look around us... things are a mess!”
Sandy was irritated. “Our nation is making progress like never before!”
Carrie put her tea aside. “Progress? Like spying on citizens? Wiretapping journalists? Using the IRS to hound political enemies? Sending foreign aid to anti-American organizations?”
Sandy howled with laughter. “Sour grapes, I think!”
Martha Ann went red. “I think you need to focus on Geauga. And forget the partisan rhetoric!”
“We won the 2012 election,” Sandy cackled. “End of story!”
“We?” Carrie mused. “Who is this ‘we’ you speak about?”
“The American people!” Sandy hissed.
Martha Ann grumbled indifferently. “I think you have a lot of nerve to claim to speak for everyday citizens. Much less those in Geauga.”
Mack agreed. “You sound like a carnival barker.”
Sandy was on fire. “Shut up, Pringle!”
“Good job,” Carrie laughed. “Everyone here picks on Mack.”
“That’s Prindl!” Mack exploded. “P-R-I-N-D-L. You sure are mouthy for being the new kid in town!”
I nodded in reflection. “Somehow, we always end up at this point in every meeting.”
Carrie tapped her fingers on the countertop. “Can’t we all just get along?”
Martha Ann closed her eyes. “Indeed! Can we get back to the local issues, already?”
Mack gestured with excitement. “Local, schmokel! Here we go Steelers, here we go!”
Carrie nearly threw her cell phone across the room. “This discussion has gotten out of hand!”
Sandy took off her horn-rimmed glasses. “Correct. We ought to be discussing the great strides this county has made thanks to people like our president.”
Mack bounced in his chair. “The guy doesn’t even like football!”
Martha Ann feigned being about to faint. “I can’t take much more of this nonsensical blabber, Pringle.”
“P-R-I-N-D-L-E!” Mack yowled. “I ain’t a stack of potato chips!”
Carrie shut her eyes. “Stop it! All of you!”
I tried to maintain focus. “C’mon friends. Let’s get back to the point. What is your front-page story for next week?”
“Pride and progressive thought, in the land of Peter Chardon Brooks,” Sandy warbled.
“How about celebrating the recent birthday of former president, George W. Bush?” Mack said, quizzically.
I held onto my seat. “Talk about a gathering that would be sparsely attended...”
“Not true!” Carrie dissented. “Not true!”
Martha Ann held her stomach. “I think this breakfast isn’t sitting right on my stomach. Can we go home?”
Mack seconded her suggestion. “Steelers training camp isn’t that far away. I need to prepare for all that excitement!”
Carrie surrendered at last. “Very well. This meeting is adjourned!”

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