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Becoming a Man:
Half a Life Story

Paul Monette

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Just say "No" to the Salvation Army.

If anybody is looking for an alternative place to donate money this season, I'm not going to make a big pitch this year because you were all so incredibly generous last year, and I don't want to feel that I'm taking advantage of anybody, but Priscilla is again saddled with her 5 grandchildren, is being operated on for her rectal cancer on December 10, and all the resources for Christmas assistance have dried up.  Our family is  "adopting" her family this year, but if anybody would like to make a donation for her Christmas, it can be sent to

Breaking Barriers
1722 J St., Ste. 321
Sacramento, CA 95814

and be sure to say that it's for Priscilla, since they are working on finding Christmas assistance for a lot of people.

(I'm including the BB address because I'm uncomfortable that people might think I'm using the money for myself or something.)

That's it for today!



6 December 2001

I heard of a group
With others like me
Who felt the way I feel....

(Steve Schalchlin, The Last Session)

Well, not exctly.

I went to "the group" today. Dr. G belongs to a group called LeTip, which is comprised of members of the business community who get together each week for lunch and to share "tips" about how to better their business. They give each other discounts when they frequent each other's businesses. He wanted me to attend because there will be times when he's not around when I will have to go in his stead (you get penalized if you don't show up or send a representative, and he plans to spend 6 weeks on vacation in February, so I'll probably have to go each week).

We met at the office near lunchtime and I got into his car.

Right away I knew I was in trouble when the seatbelt wouldn't fasten (I hate that. It's so embarrassing.)

Dr. G works all over northern California and so spends a lot of time in his car, and he's oviously very much at home there. He confided that sometimes he even sleeps in his car.

So doing "living" things in his car is very natural for him. Still, I didn't like it when we were going through city traffic and he was talking on his cell phone. It didn't take hand movements to talk, as he has a headset, but he did have to dial, and to look up the number, both of which took his eyes off the road.

But it was on the highway where my panic went into high gear. Whizzing along at 60 mph and he's talking to me and looking at me while he was talking, not at the cars ahead of our car. That was bad enough, but he got involved in telling a story that required him to show the size of something using both his hands, so we're whizzing down the road at 60 mph, and he's looking at me and has NO hands on the wheel.

I was very glad to get off the freeway and into the town where the restaurant hosting the meeting was located.

Organizations like this are a new thing for me. I keep saying that some folks get raised in the Elks or the Moose or even the Shriners. Our family "club" was AA and so I never learned the finer points of glad handing. And boy, do you have to glad hand here!

Turns out that one person is designated as the official greeter, but his/her identity is not known. If you don't shake the greeter's hand before lunch, you have to pay a fine. It's all a ploy to get people to shake hands and talk to each other. I probably shook more hands this afternoon than I have all year!

But the trade off is that they really were nice people, and I even found someone who wanted my advice on getting into the medical transcribing business, so I didn't have to feel like a fish out of water. Also, Dr. G made it a point to introduce me to everyone so I never had time to feel shy. Every time I felt uncomfortable, he was grabbing me by the arm to whirl me around and introduce me to someone else.

Then it was time for lunch. Dr. G hadn't really told me what went on at LeTip meetings, or if he thought he had, maybe I hadn't listened well enough. Maybe I was rummaging to find that slip of paper that I thought I'd filed away but had actually dropped in the garbage can, but was too embarrassed to admit I'd done. Anyway, it never occurred to me that when you bring a guest, who has no business of her own and who is really just your office flunkie, that she'd be expected to stand up and speak to the group.


I have to mention that I blush at the slightest thing. Look at me crosseyed and I feel my face turning bright red. I've never been comfortable with prepared public speaking, but surprise public speaking -- even for a short time -- was cruel and unusual punishment. As they were going around the table and each of the guests getting up to introduce him/herself, Dr. G says "just get up and talk about how wonderful I am." (Who did he think he was? Steve?) So I did.

I stood up and said "He says I should get up and talk about how wonderful he is." (laughter) I managed to stumble through a few more sentences about how I'm new to the job but am enjoying it, and that oh yeah, I'm also a theatre critic. I sat down relieved that I hadn't spilled lunch on my suit yet and so I had no melted cheese staining my front while I talked. (spilling on my suit came later)

So then we heard a talk about the wonders of auto body repair and when to invest your money and why you should use an investment broker. There were some business announcements from the treasurer and secretary, and then it was time for everybody to give a 30 second spiel about his/her business.

And then they passed around this very tarnished silver urn into which everybody was supposed to put "tips" (I never did figure out what that was), and pay any fines (by a very complicated fine system that I still haven't figured out), and while doing that, give up and give a spiel about your business.

When it was Dr. G's turn to pass the urn to me, he glanced at me expectantly as if it were my turn to stand up and speak. TWO speeches in one lunch. I was so surprised, I just said I was a guest and didn't have a business anyway, and I didn't have to talk. (I said it in a funny way, so it wasn't quite that bad). Later, of course, I figured out how I could have contributed, but don't surprise me like that!

The lunch proved to be not quite as painful as I had expected, and I suppose I'll be able to cover for Dr. G when he's lounging poolside at his estate in Bali, but I'd better prepare something next time so I don't completely embarrass myself again.

(Now if someone can give me lessons in how not to blush, I'll feel so much more comfortable)

One Year Ago:
Give me a Ring Sometime

(Club Photo has started deleting
photo albums after 90 days,
so the photos which were once there,
have been removed now)

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