Our Vacation Cottage On Wheels

Our Vacation Cottage On Wheels
2002 Mazda SUV ES-V6 & 2008 Cruiser Travel Trailer - Fun Finder X - 189FBR

Friday, February 19, 2010

Open Mike Night And "Mr. Harvard"

Many RV resorts have social calendars full of group activities so that people can get to know each other and, perhaps, be distracted from obsessing over the outragous rental fees that they're paying. Popular activities include shuffleboard, Texas-Hold-Em, Line dancing, BINGO, sewing, painting, and an "Open Mike Night" where residents are free to exhibit any talents that they might have.

Maureen and I thought that the latter sounded like fun. She's a great impromtu singer and I, well... Let me see... I can read and write. Now I know that reading and writing is a fairly common skill (except maybe in some of the RV parks that we've visited, you know; the ones with trailers that haven't been on the road since Dewey ran for President and each site has a collection of discarded appliances and miscellaneous yard crap on display, along with the requisite pack of semi-feral cats or overweight dogs). I, on the other hand, am an author. Or, maybe, a budding author." I have been told that I have some small talent for stringing words together into somewhat readable sentences and even paragraphs. And so, even though one family member commented that some of my work was wordy, I have a few short stories I'm rather proud of and a novel that I've been working on (for the past four years). It was the introduction and first chapter of my novel that I chose to read from on Open Mike Night.

After a few of the park's management team got up to sing and perform some magic tricks, Maureen took the mike and sang "My Man." She did very well (one of the best performances of the night, in fact). I went next. The "stagehand" positioned the table and chair that I requested, all the while making a suspicious face at the stack of papers I held in my hands. That particular body language should have been a warning to me.

The clubhouse has a fairly respectable lending library. This fact had led me to believe that there were at least some literate folks in the audience who might enjoy hearing an author (okay, a scribbler) read from his latest work in progress. I imagined myself on a book tour, speaking at the local Barnes & Noble to an enraptured audience who had stood on line for hours just to hear a selection from a famous author's latest bestseller. Once again, I imagined something grand and God stood by laughing.

My novel takes place in the future. It follows a small family living during a modern ice age and a worldwide pandemic. The survival of mankind is in question and my hero is valiantly trying to record the stories of the displaced peoples that have lost their homes to the advancing glaciers or are fleeing from a terrible disease that had already killed millions. As the story progresses, the family sets out on a trip to a flooded Manhattan, now a Venice-like shadow of what it once was, but still a thriving metropolis struggling to save their city and live normal lives during a time when Nature has gone beserk. I try to portray how humans might respond to terrible circumstances during a time that many believe is the end of days for humanity. During their travels, the family learns several amazing secrets that, if known, could tear the world asunder with worldwide riots and race wars. Because of their knowledge of these things, the family is pursued by different groups, each with their own reasons for gaining this knowledge or making sure that it is never revealed.

As I began reading, there were severals calls from the back of the room complaining that I couldn't be heard. I moved the mike closer to my mouth and forged on. I quickly learned that at least some of my audience didn't appreciate my novel or, perhaps, just being read to. There was one particular voice calling from the back of the room. Striving to finish my reading, I heard only what sounded like mumblings until one word broke through my concentration and nearly stopped me cold. "BORRR-ING!" It was that same person, sitting in the back of the room with his friends and getting his jollies by issuing a play-by-play critique of my reading.

I glanced up at my audience, trying to guage their interest. Most of them seemed to be politely listening. I decided to forge on, knowing that I had only a couple of pages left to read and sure that the story would soon capture and excite even my vocal critic. Well, I got the "hook." The park manager approached and announced that there wasn't enough time for me to continue, even though it was still early and ithere wasn't a long line of people waiting to grab the mike. Trying to maintain my dignity, I announced that I was done and would welcome any comments or questions that the audience might have (sometimes I'm a glutton for punishment). "NO," the manager announced, "We don't allow that!" "Allow that?" "Allow that?" What did she mean, "Allow that?" I hadn't noticed any rules of order posted on the wall when we came in and thought that pretty much anything goes at an open mike gathering. Even so, I relinquished the mike and returned to my seat, glad that at least there was some polite applause as I did so (And NO, I'm sure that they weren't clapping because I had finally shutup and left the stage!).

As a nice lady who was sitting next to me began to praise my writing and assure me that she loved to be read to, Mr. "Boring" approached the mike. For some reason, he felt the need to justify his rude remarks by announcing to us all that he had attended Harvard and knew something about "Global Warming." Who the hell cared where he went to school (I doubt that is was at Harvard) and didn't he hear anything that I had read? The novel wasn't about the causes of the ice age or the pandemic, but only about how people might cope if there was one! JEEZ! Gimme a break!

Well, "Mr. Harvard," as I have come to call him, proceeded to sing. Or at least try. No, he couldn't even have been trying; he was terrible! He must have realized half-way through his selection that things were not going well, for he interjected a half-assed apology, "At least I'm better than the last guy!" Hmm, this guy deserved a fat lip. No, I didn't dash up to the mike and give him one, and no, I didn't even go looking for him afterward to question his curriculum vitae, which I was positive didn't include any ivy-covered halls of higher education. People who have attained that lofty peak don't usually feel the need to go around bragging about it. Especially to a bunch of RV'ers. Right? And I'm sure that the closest this guy ever came to doing research on global warming was when he studied the ice melting in his cocktail.

I learned something that evening about expectations and my fellow man. Oh, alright, I already knew that stuff, but I sure had it reinforced. But I did get some helpful advice and encouragement from the nice lady at my table. I'm pretty sure that she went to Harvard...


Anonymous said...

I've just completed reading your entire Blog, and I enjoyed it very much. We have been Fulltiming now for 402 days. As I'm 51, and my wife is 49. We have just about everything u write about happen to us also, plus more. From getting lost in SC at night and finding ourself on a old unused jeep trail with our 38' DP to being ran over by my toad in WV while unhooking it from the MH, (still limping, and have backpain). Since we were traveling, it was 5 months before a Doctor took a MRI and found the problem. The RV parks have what I call 3 types of people..the perms, who live at the park year round, the 2nd type, the Birds, who fly down for the winter, and then the last type, I call the Temps, those of us who only stay for a few days and move on. The 3 types don't mix and the temps are at the bottom of the food chain. We were at a campground (RV Resort) in Yuma for 17 days, and not once did we speak with any of the perms or birds. In an example, I noticed a sign about a potroast dinner, I asked about it and was told that all the tickets had been sold, but we could attend if we waited till about 30 minutes after it started and we could have the left overs if any...needless to say, it didn't happen..
good luck, this is the greatest life style.
ps, we also are from Florida.

Anonymous said...

Hi George/Maureen:
Its Tony and glad to read your latest excursion and the Naples pics...finally, sun and maybe warmth!?!?!

Nice Story also george about your run in with the law!! very funny... You still go and watch crummy movies... :-)