It's not about the house.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Welcome To Americaville! Elks Initiation: Part 3

Johnny did make a chowder for me out of that leftover fish, but I couldn’t eat it. It had a yellow slick on top from all that baked-in butter. Bleah. Plus – because of the bread, I imagine – it was sort of, well, brown. Double bleah. I’d show you a picture of it, but it looks disturbingly like puke. It was probably just a bad idea to begin with, although when I refused to even taste it Johnny ate a big old bowl, and he said it was fecking excellent. But Johnny also grew up eating dripping sandwiches, so… Bleah.

Oh, and also – for Other Bear (and the rest of my non-American readers who might still be wondering): Elks are kind of like Masons, only not as antediluvian. Or as sinister. And, also, with drinking.

There are Lady Elks now, did you know that? In fact, the Grand Poobah of Andy’s Lodge is a Lady Elk.

I didn’t know that. So when the lady eating alone at the table behind us – the one in the black suit with shiny merit-badges pinned all up and down both sides of her lapel – seemed to be eavesdropping on our conversation, I thought she was a nut.

I wasn’t saying anything important, but reflexively lowered my voice anyway. When Johnny caught on he laughed, turned around, and asked her “Are you watching me?” She said yes and kept on eating.


But as it turned out, they had already met. She was outside when Johnny and Andy ducked out for a smoke and, in the minute and a half that it takes to suck a cigarette down in the chill of a February evening, she’d invited Johnny to join the Lodge.

Cheeky nut!

Johnny gave her some variation of the old Groucho line and laughed it off, but then she came in and parked herself behind him. In fairness, I don’t know if she was scoping Johnny out or Andy – probably Andy, seeing as how he was due for initiation as soon as we were done – but she did eat her meal in a very workmanlike manner, while watching our table with a singular determination.

Grand Freakin’ Nutty Poobah.

(I kid. The Lord High Everything Else of an Elks Lodge is actually called the Exalted Leader. Much less nutty, don’t you think?)

(P.S. I read that Exalted Leader thing on Wikipedia. So don’t any of you Elks out there come bellowing at me if it was supposed to be an Exalted Secret. I don’t even know how to post on Wikipedia.)

When we were done eating (Exalted Leader having finished first and gone off on her Exalted Way), Andy excused himself to wash his hands. Rack of ribs, you know, plus brand-new suit, could very well equal disaster. But he pulled it off. He walked out to the men's room like a surgeon: arms bent at the elbow, hands in the air, using various non-extremital body parts to swing open the doors.

A few minutes later, he came back in a rush. He’d thought the initiation was at 7:30, but he’d just found out he was a half an hour off. The ceremony began at 7:00, and it was coming on 6:59! I tucked his tie under his collar, straightened the knot, told him to button the top button of that nice red shirt but he refused, then Johnny stood and I picked up my bag.

“Okay,” says Andy.

“This is it,” says Andy.

“Wish me luck,” says Andy!

What? Oh, no, honey -- we’re not leaving! We’ll stay right by your side. We didn’t drive all the way down here just to eat dinner with you. We could have done that anytime. We’re here. For you. Through the ceremony and everything. For you!

“Oh. No,” says Andy, and the gathering cloud of Poobahs closing ranks behind him shook their heads. “I don’t think you’re allowed to go in that room.”


“Well. Okay then. Fine. We’ll stay here while you go get initialized. You’ll come out when it’s over and we’ll buy you a drink.” Then we’ll whisk you away and ply you with Captain Morgan’s. And you’ll tell us everything that went down in that secret room. Bwah ha ha ha!

“Sure,” says Andy, “I’ll have one with you after. It should only take about an hour and a half.”

What? Screw that! Good luck, man. We’ll call you tomorrow.

We did call him in the morning, but he wouldn’t really talk. I poured on the charm and got him to say a few things, though I don’t know which parts were true and which were made-up jokes.

He said something about a goat that I didn’t understand – but I’m pretty sure he said they didn’t do the goat thing anymore, they only talked about it.

He said he promenaded, I believe, with the Lord High Everything.

Oh, and he definitely said they waved their arms up in the air like antlers. But that definitely had to be a joke. Right?

I mean – right?


Ladyscot said...

My father was a mason for over 50 years, and male relatives on both sides are/were also Masons. I know for a fact that there is nothing sinister about the Masons! They are a charitable organization just like the Elks and K of C. Don't believe eveything you read in "The Da Vinci Code" and the like. said...

My Mom's boyfriend is in the Elks Lodge. They seem to spend the majority of their time playing poker and going on bus trips to casinos. I tease him a lot and ask him if they still wear white sheets over their heads, he doesn't seem amused by that question.

EGE said...

Oh Ladyscot, I was only kidding! Floating eyeballs aren't sinister at ALL...

(PS There are Masons all over Johnny's family, too, but he gave them the old Heisman just like he did the Elks the other night. Hm. Maybe he really does believe the old Groucho line after all...)

ILU -- No no, it's the Kiwanis that wear the white sheets!

braveheart said...

LADY Elks? Aren't they does, er dowes, no, doughs!? It's the moose that have pooh-bahs, doh! Ah, dohs!!

theotherbear said...

Brilliant. I can just imagine the Grand Poohbar (BWAHAHA SNORT!!!), wearing antlers, slaughtering a goat, while the crowd waves their hands in the air, looking somewhat like a drama class I did when I was 6 and we were all told to pretend we were trees.

EGE said...

Hey Braveheart, long time no hear -- welcome back! Dohs, I like it.

TOB -- I think I was in that class. Swaayy in the breeze...