Did you ever have one of those days…
… when it started off badly and then kept going downhill?
(Note: An edited version of one of my Usenet postings from earlier this month)
So, last night was Awards Night at Friendship #33. Unfortunately, I was working late, so I changed into my tux at the office and got to the meeting not long before opening. It being June, our Stewards had a picnic-themed dinner – hot dogs, burgers, slaw, etc. It being New England, it rained. Okay, stuff happens, right? But hey – at least there were no ants 😉
We had 2 50-year members to receive pins, and I found out at the last minute that neither would be attending. Okay, stuff happens, right? I had 2 other awards, one of which was going to our District Deputy. Where was the DD? Uh… I mentioned it to him a month previous, but had forgotten to follow up to remind him. Someone remembered that there was a big Shrine thing going on that night, and he’s very active there. Okay, I understand – I probably should have called him beforehand just to make sure.
So we head upstairs, and I see that our new Fellow Craft member is with us. My lodge being comprised of some really sharp guys, no less than half a dozen people reminded me of this fact. Since we can conduct business on any degree in Conn, a couple of PMs took me aside to make sure that I open on the “correct” (i.e., FC degree). So, 7:30 rolls around and I rap the gavel, and throw everyone for a loop when I inform the Senior Warden that we would be opening on the EA degree. So right away, half the lodge, being in the mindset to open on the FC, is rolling their eyes at me, but since we’re all excellent ritualists, no problemo, right? No-o-o-o, of course not – not for anyone else except, apparently, for me. Partway into the opening I switch into autopilot and go from one degree to another. Hey, stuff happens, right?
I’d like to say that having made a few screw-ups, I was now alert and everything went smoothly. I’d really like to say that, but unfortunately, it didn’t stop there.
My Senior Deacon catches my bad mojo and suddenly forgets which on chapter to open the book, and then has a memory core malfunction and forgets which way to place the S&C – EA? FC? He finishes, and we manage to continue without much more going wrong, for oh, maybe a full minute.
Did I mention that the Grand Marshall and the DD and AGM from the other half of our district were waiting outside the door to be received formally?
Our district has 2 sections, A & B. The DD to receive the award is from our lodge, but the other guy was just installed, and hadn’t been down to Friendship in years, and was now happy to be here officially. He’s a really nice guy, and I keep running into him at different functions, with me always joking that he should come down to Friendship to see how ritual should be in our district. And our Grand Marshall out in the anteroom had been telling him how Friendship, even though a small lodge, is one of the best ritual lodges in the state, and how I and my officers have run nearly flawless degrees, etc, etc.
I can probably stop writing now, because you can just see where this is going, right?
My SD, who was prepared enough to write down the names and titles of the visitors, had run into the Grand Marshal’s wife earlier who informed him – nay, made him promise – to introduce him with the appellation “Billy Bob”. So he brings in the white-jacketed, purple-aproned visitors, and introduces the Grand Marshal. I’m now realizing that there may not be any way to salvage my reputation, so I simply burst into laughter. I invite my visitors up to the east to introduce them to the lodge. The DD and AGM decline to sit with me, and take a seat on the sidelines for the evening’s entertainment. The Grand Marshal sits next to me, so I offer – no, more like plead with him to take the gavel, but he declines – not having seen the debacle during the opening and not believing that we had anything less than stellar work.
So from there, my bad mojo infects the Senior Warden, where it then passes over to the Secretary – who had mixed up the minutes from the last meeting with the ones previous to that, which confuses everyone. We straighten that out and repair the minutes. He then brings up a piece of business, to which a motion is made and seconded, and I rap the gavel to pass it and then ask him to go onto the next item.
Grand Marshal: “Uh… Worshipful, don’t you think we should vote on that?”
Me: (remembering that I’m not at work) Doh!
Hey, stuff happens, right?
So the Secretary gets flustered and forgets to tell me that even though the 50 year guys didn’t show up, that there was a 40 year guy on the sidelines. Of course, when we ordered the pins, they didn’t mail *that* one anyway.
But we did vote on a new candidate, someone with a name that had way too many consonants for my cultural background, and I mangled his name horribly. Normally I’d get together with the Secretary before the meeting to go over this stuff, but working late and getting there just before the meeting messed that up. But stuff happens, right? So the bad mojo comes back to me for a couple of small slips – nothing major, but now the source of much entertainment to everyone.
Oh, did I mention that I serve on the Grand Lodge Committee for Masonic Education? Well, did I mention that a new committee member decided to drop in on my lodge that night? Yup, of all nights, he just had to come for a visit since he had heard so much about the great degree work that we do.
So, I’m thinking that it can’t get any worse, and introduce him by name – which I did not mangle. I’m sure he’d have felt a bit more honored, though, if I had gotten his lodge correct. He mentions that he’s glad to have met me, having heard so much about both me and Friendship from other people in the district. He smiles and says something about our “off night”, but adds “At least you’re having a good time here – I love the floor show.”
Anyway, I somehow manage to get through the rest of the meeting without causing the roof to cave in or lightning to strike the building. More amazingly, none of the PMs gave me the evil eye or threw themselves on the floor. Sensing an opportunity to recover a shred of dignity, I turn to the Grand Marshal and ask if he would like to close the meeting. He takes the gavel, and proceeds to close. All goes well, until we get to a little section right after the closing prayer. The Grand Marshal, apparently the new recipient of the bad mojo that had been making it’s way around the lodge room, suddenly trips over the words, tries to restart, then asks the Chaplain for a prompt. The Chaplain (an excellent ritualist and walking encyclopedia of Masonic protocol) suddenly draws a blank. There were about 2 seconds that lasted for 5 minutes, and I stepped in and finished the closing. Small comfort, but it was about the only thing I seemed to do right at all last night. So, the DD thanked me for the entertaining evening , as did a few of the visiting brothers.
But hey – stuff happens, right?
The thing that worries me, though, is that everyone came up to me and said that it was one of the most fun meetings we’ve had all year.