Monday, February 13, 2006

Clubs

I used to be a joiner. Loved a group. Sorority club in high school (they called it a service club, but everyone knew it was really a sorority), Anti-nuke club, La Leche League, 4-H, Quilt guild, Homeschooler's club. If there was a meeting, I was more than happy to pencil it in on my calendar. For some reason I can't quite put my finger on though, in the last few years, I've lost my desire to join a club and, in fact, I've dropped out of or let lapse everything I was once involved in. I joke that the older and more eccentric I become, the less I fit in, but it's more along the lines of I don't WANT to fit in anymore.

Regardless of the reason, when the theme for this month's Blogging 4 Books challenge was announced - clubs - I knew after only a few seconds consideration, that I had nothing to say on the subject. I'm not in any clubs. But this evening, in an effort to use up the last remaining hours in which I could have chosen to do something productive instead, I wandered into Faster than Kudzu and read Joshilyn's warning that B4B entries were due by midnight tonight. I said to myself - "Laume" I said "Remember, you're not in any clubs." And I thought about that for a second, realized I had been completely wrong about it all month long and answered myself - I said "Laume, yes you are. You're in lots of clubs!" And then I had to race my fingers back here and tell you all what I meant in that little private conversation.

I'm in a trillion different clubs. So are you. And you. And yes, even you. We all are. We don't think of these groups as clubs, generally, but they are and I'll tell you why. Because it's very clear when you are in one and when you are not. Some of these clubs are tiny, some have millions of members. Some are serious, some are silly. But they are all clubs, with criteria or qualifications for membership, initiations, secret handshakes, and dues one must pay to join.

The first club I remember joining without realizing it was The Mommy Club. Of course the only thing you needed to get into this club is a child, usually a small one that you just pushed forth into the world from between your thighs. But there are other ways to get into the club - by adopting, or marrying someone and getting a child or two as a bonus prize. Which leads to the discussion of SUB-clubs. You can be in The Mommy Club and also in the Stepmommy Club and maybe even the sub/sub Stepmommy with Joint Custody and Insanely Confusing Custody Schedule Club.

Usually how you figure out you've joined a club is that suddenly "IT" all becomes clear. A year earlier, childless, you might have been sitting around a table with other childless friends, laughing and rolling your eyes at a newly delivered-of-child friend who can't seem to talk about anything but the color of baby poop. You all agree, of course,that the woman has totally lost her sanity. She must have accidentally slid her brain out along with the placenta. But then, shortly after the birth of your very own miracle, you suddenly realize - The color of baby poop is IMPORTANT! Ohmygawd! How could you not have seen it before! You could discuss baby poop coloration for hours, nay, days, and still not run out of things to say about this fascinating subject.

Sometimes you don't realize you're in a club right away. I had a teen, several in fact, for quite some time, without understanding the significance, but I remember the exact moment when I discovered I was a card carrying member of the Mothers of Teenagers Club. I was shopping at our local Walmart. A child tagged along behind me. When I say "a child", I am referring to Joseph, then 13 years old and already about a foot taller then lil' ol 5'2" me. Imagine if you can this little woman walking determinedly, silently, eyes somewhat squinched, shoulders somewhat hunched, to ward off the constant barrage of requests showering down from above.

"How come I can't buy soda? Huh? How come? Give me one good reason. You say you're all into health food but you had brownies last night. You're a hypocrite. That's what you are. How about jerky? Can I have some jerky?....." Several departments over let's pick up the scene again...... "I need it mom. I can't play without it. The coach said we needed to get one. Do you have any idea how COLD it is out there? Huh? It's going to snow before the end of the season. You spend money on fabric and going out to eat with your friends, but you want me to freeze out on the field because you're too cheap to......" And on the other side of the store..... "Mom. Mom! MOM! You're not listening to me. Why won't you answer me? I don't have too many knives. This one has six different tools in it. The others are for my collection but this one would be for really using it. If you needed something done, I'd have it and if you needed a screwdriver or a bottle opener then I'd let you use it. It's not that expensive. It could be an early Christmas present. Mom. MOM!......."

In the course of that shopping trip, no more than a half hour's time, THREE women paused, made eye contact, and gave me a look of understanding. By the time I was driving home I realized I understood their silent communication because I WAS one of them. I was the mother of teenagers.

You don't always choose your clubs. I remember how emotionally affected I was by an essay in our local newspaper many years ago. The editor wrote about "being in a club no one wants to join", upon the death of his son in a car accident. I clearly remember thinking "I can't imagine." And of course, I couldn't. Years later, at the death of our oldest son at the age of nineteen in a motorcycle accident, that article and that thought, "I can't imagine", flashed into my head. Now I could imagine and my earlier sense, of being incapable of understanding the experience, turned out to be a valuable piece of wisdom. Shortly after, a woman came up to me, gave me a hug, and with a deep look of sadness these words came out of her mouth - "I'm soooo sorry. I know what you're going through because my dog died last year." What I wanted to do, after the shock of "did she just say what I think she said?" wore off, was to find the nearest heavy object and give her a serious beating. But then a small voice inside me whispered "Remember, she's not in the club." So I smiled weakly, and let her live.

The Clutter Club. The You Can Never Have Too Many Books Club. The Love My Small Dog Obsessively Club. The Proud New Grandma Club. The Liberal Stuck in a Conservative Town Club. The Night Owl Club. The Grew Up in the Midwest Club. I'm in a gazillion clubs and so are you. I'm sure that no matter who you are, we share membership in at least some of them. We might not know it. But some day, when a particular subject comes up, we'll catch each other in the eye and see a 'look'. Perhaps we'll double check our suspicions by slipping a few code words into our speech and see if the other person can follow the conversation. If so, then we'll nod and smile and from that point on, understand each other. There won't be any need to explain it. After all, as far as that particular subject or experience goes, we're both members of the club.

3 Comments:

Blogger Deb R said...

Just don't forget to post the link to this on Joss's blog before midnight your time, Laume! I'd hate to see you write such a good post and forget to post the link over there. ;-)

10:05 PM  
Blogger dragonfly said...

Great post. Loved it!

3:45 PM  
Blogger Scrapmaker said...

I like your writing style. I think we all belong to some clubs we'd rather not. Good post. Jen

7:25 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home