- Category: Opinion
- Written by Jim Dee
Well, I must be a digital packrat because I was able to find that short story about the Masonic lodge after all. It wasn''t the literary masterpiece I'd remembered it to be, so I'll just include a brief excerpt. So, the following is a snippet from my ancient short story entitled, "Rude, Ruder, Shriner, as written circa 1990 (based on actual events ).
[ ... We pick up the story in medias res, as it were ... ]
Some employee, years before, had penned "rude, ruder, shriner --on the wall of the bottled beer cooler. Generally, it's true; the average member of this Masonic country club is a real son of a bitch. (That quote is one of the nicer ones in the cooler.)
A typical day starts off at eleven, in the Sunlight Bar Room. I work a long wooden bar that can comfortably accommodate twenty Shriners. The back of the bar is all mirrors with an occasional framed picture of some old, fat golfer getting ready to tee off. These fat bastards, by the way, actually believe golf is a strenuous sport --even though on this particular course, golfers aren't allowed to walk; they have to drive golf carts.
After wealthy old semi-retired men booze their ways around eighteen holes, they need rest. So, they come to the Sunlight Bar Room. Besides the bar, the Sunlight Bar Room is a large, nicely ornamented room with checkered green tablecloths, a trophy case, and a player piano. The whole room is carpeted except for a ten-by-fifteen foot tiled area in the center. I don't know the exact purpose of this (dancing, maybe?), but I've noticed that golfers purposely walk through this part of the room so that their golfing spikes will scrape up attention. Nothing walks so tall as a Shriner on the tile.
Mr. Braun came in first today. He's a trim, fifty year old who, though married, still lusts after young women. He sat at the bar and said with a stretch, "Gimme a white one --very dry on the rocks. He drinks white ones (Martinis) every day in the afternoon, and red ones (Manhattans) every evening. He's the only customer I have that refers to these drinks that way.
When I finished mixing his drink, I asked, "You want an olive?"
"Just put in one for flavor."
I dropped one in and ate three myself -- it's a perk.
"Okay, here you go, I said. "What's new today?"
"I just got back from God-damned Allentown. If they don't ever finish working on the turnpike, I'm gonna kill somebody. He pointed to his drink. "I may have two or three more of these. Where're all the waitresses?"
He sure the hell wasn't interested in eating; I can tell you that much. "They're gossiping in the kitchen," I said, adding, "besides, you're too old for them anyway. I filled myself a glass of ginger ale and said, "I thought you were going to a wedding or something today."
This pissed him off a bit. "My wife is, but I'm not, he said, taking a large gulp of gin. "God damn it, I told her five years ago, œIf you want to get married, you have to understand one thing: In the summer, I play golf. That's it. Summers I play golf.' She just doesn't understand that I play every summer day, no matter what."
I suggested, "Well, why don't you teach her to play golf?"
"I'm trying, but she's the most uncoordinated woman on the face of this Earth. She can't grasp the basics."
"Oh, come on ... She probably just needs practice, I said, noticing people were beginning to come in.
"What she needs, and I told her this ... He leaned in and spoke from the side of his mouth, "She needs to drop about thirty pounds off her ass."
I laughed. "You're so nice to her."
Shelley, a twenty-two year old waitress, called for two cokes and a vodka tonic. As I made them, Mr. Braun eyed up Shelley more or less like the wolf eyed up Little Red Riding Hood.
Just then, Mr. Stallman sat down at the bar. He likes an extra-dry Bombay Martini straight up. I made it and let them alone for a while.
An older, fat golfer came in and ordered two gin and tonics. I asked him for his membership card (a new step I'd already been through with most of the others already).
His voice was pompous and aged, yet thundering. "Well this is an outrage! I've never been asked to show my card in all my life. Why do I have to show it now?"
"Well, I had a little problem with the Liquor Control Board and they said if we sell to nonmembers, we lose our license and I have to pay a thousand dollars. So, the management decided"
Another guy from his table cut me off. He said that I should sell him the drinks anyway--card or no card--and if the club gets into any trouble, I should go to jail for the country club --out of respect for the leaders of the club.
I hammered my glass on the bar and said, "The people running this club are morons, and I wouldn't go to jail for you assholes if we were the last two people alive!"
The leader of the club, believe it or not, is called the Illustrious Potentate. Employees have to remember that all Shriners think they're the boss. I've worked here for two years, and I still find humor in it: There is the "Potentate, who is in charge of everything. Then, there are about fifteen on the Divan (pronounced condescendingly from the top of the nose, "Dee-vahn -- Committee, who will be in charge of everything when the Potentate's term is up. Therefore, since each of these will someday be Potentate, they say they're in charge. Then, there are twenty or so on the Board of Governors who have already been Potentate, and so they are your boss too. There are approximately 100 men who are always there, always drunk, always cheap, and always in charge of everything.
Once, I had the entire Board of Governors at the bar. I poured one guy, Bill, a Windsor and water. "Jesus Christ, you gave me two shots of booze in that. Why don't you just give the stuff away? No wonder this bar never makes any money."
So, I agreed to use more caution while pouring.
The very next guy ordered a shot of Vodka. I gave him a perfect shot. "Jesus Christ, what kind of shot is that? Put some more in there. That's no way to treat members. The two then argued like children. While they did, I poured myself a beer.
The rest of the children ordered a Genny. I gave them all Coors Light, and none of them knew the difference. Out of six thousand members, there are only four who know what kind of beer they're drinking. A person learns to ignore most of these guys.
I walked over to Mr. Braun. "You want another?"
"Yes sir! --He slid me his glass. There was a group of old men at a nearby table playing with something.
I gave Mr. Braun his drink. "What the hell is that? --I asked the old men.
It seems that these four geezers had chipped in to buy a machine that finds the gravitational centers of golf balls. It was a little black machine, resembling an electronic pencil sharpener. The ball goes in the top and spins, and a mark is made on the ball during this process. It's supposed
to add untold yards to your drive.
I laughed. "You guys have been had. That's a placebo. It doesn't help you out, it just makes you think you'll do better. Mr. Braun and Mr. Stallman agreed, but the four old men were quite defensive.
"Don't tell me what a god-damned placebo is, young man, one of them said. "I've been a doctor for fifty years!"
It was twelve thirty and many golfers started to come in for lunch. Then, that cranky old bitch Mrs. Freeman came in. Long ago, she was a maid for a family who owns the notorious Freeman Medical Clinic. The family has a mentally handicapped son who Mrs. Freeman backed into a broomcloset one day and had her way with. She wasn't after sex, per se. Her plan (which worked too well) was to become pregnant and marry into the family. Now she runs with the rich women (and the rich men, too, I've heard). I hate her.
She strutted up to the bar and, in her usual nasal voice, said, "I wanna Schmeeeernoff an' tahnnnnic. (I hate the way she says that. I've always wanted to say "It's Smirnoff, lady, not Schmeeeernoff.
I slid it across the bar and said, "Two and a quarter."
"Here's two-thirty-five, young man. Keep the change."
What a bitch. I shoved the entire two-thirty-five into my pocket.
I was still laughing when Mr. James came in. He's a half-senile old man who always wears the same suit with a Shriner medal on it. He always orders pretzels and rootbeer, and he never shuts up. He means well, of course, but, well ... just watch what happens. Mr. Braun and Mr. Stallman didn't see him come in, so I thought I'd stir things up a bit.
"Hi Mr. James. Usual? --I started to pour before he answered. Mr. James is always good for one of a select few stories: There's the lung surgery story, the "Henry Ford was my best friend --story, the military story, and the "I'm trying to sell some old golf clubs --story. These are the only four things that this man knows for sure in life, and I have heard them every day for two years. Sometimes I have to correct him on his own stories. I love it when he tries to sell these golf clubs to people. (The clubs are antiques, I've come to learn, but they're virtually worthless.)
"So, Mr. James, have you found a buyer for those clubs yet?"
"No, no, I'm trying to get rid of some of the old stuff in my shed. I have these old clubs and my brother thinks they might be worth something."
"Well, I heard that Mr. Braun here is actually in the market for some old clubs. I said it in a sincere, matter-of-factly tone.
Mr. Braun looked up when he heard his name. He heard what I said and looked at me with an annoyed expression. "You're an asshole, he mouthed at me. I grinned.
I went over to join in their conversation. It took Mr. Braun ten minutes to change the subject from golf clubs to women. They were discussing a younger lady seated a few tables away. "She may be married, Mr. Braun was explaining, "but that won't stop her."
"Why? --I said. "Did she ever screw around on him?"
He leaned in once again whispering to the three of us, clearly telling a secret. "I was sitting at that table. She was at the end of the bar on the phone and she knew I was looking at her, and she was looking at me. He stopped for a second to make sure no one could hear. "She started pulling her skirt up so I could see up her dress. I saw everything. He sipped his Martini. The rest of us all turned around to get another look at her.
Mr. Braun went to the end of the bar to call his wife. He was telling her that he should be done golfing in a few hours (a typical golfer's lie; they call when they're already done and then drink for a few hours before leaving). "Just a second, hon. He covered the phone with his hand and said to me, "Get me another, okay?"
[ ... end of excerpt ... ]
Well, there was a little more to that story--and probably some stuff that better illustrated how assinine many of these old farts were during my time there. But, I thought some of that stuff was funny. Basically, the place was a bunch of (1) old lecherous power-hungry drunks on the one hand, and (2) all of the strange and weird employees responding to these folks on the other. I'm not sure what this says (if anything) about Mozart, though.
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On February 11, 2006, wrote:
Damn interesting writing, (it makes me wish I could read the rest).