Monday, October 14, 2013

The Columbus Day Loser's Club

Columbus Circle
Photo credit: Erik Drost
I was on the speech team in high school, which was an excellent way for a social misfit like me to make friends. It's not like we had a theater club or a show choir or anything like what the cool misfits are into these days.

At some point, our coach was promoted from teacher to head of development. This meant that several of us got to skip class every now and again to go to some school to convince 8th graders to apply to our school. which was a nice change of pace. 

Another part of her job was raising money for the school. There was one event that she took a bunch of us to that is permanently etched in my brain. I will be in the little old hipsters home, Guns 'n Roses playing on the PA and I'll still remember this story.

There was this old Italian guy, who was so proud of his heritage and/or Christopher Columbus (who neither discovered America or was a stand up guy) that he decided to make a grand gesture in anticipation of the 500th anniversary of Columbus's (non) discovery of America in 1492. 

I graduated high school in 1988, and I wasn't the oldest student in our group, so let's say that he was getting a 5 to 6 year head start on the thing.

His grand plan was to fund Golden Rule clubs in high schools all over Brooklyn. You know, the whole do unto others as you would have do unto you (unless you're invading their land) thing. 

I can picture it all vividly. The white building where the big launch meeting was. The folding chairs. The speeches that took their own sweet time getting to the point. Thinking, "You want us to do what?"

All we had to do to get $500 for our school was to start such a club. Which was never going to happen because some things are too lame even for nerds in Catholic school. Mrs. C cajoled, she guilted. But we did not budge.

I don't know if she was concerned about her fund raising numbers, or if she would've been allowed to use the money for something else after we founded the club and then never had a single meeting. But we weren't going to do it. 

All I could picture was having to make and post flyers for this lameass group, and this was too much even for rule-following, authority-pleasing (most of the time) me. This wasn't going to be the Golden Rule Club. It was going to be the Social Suicide Club.

Which is an excellent movie premise, but not something you should dabble with in real life.

I sang in the folk group at masses. I was a Eucharistic minister (yes, I was once so Catholic that I distributed the body and blood of Christ). I started a fund raising effort to fight world hunger. But starting a Golden Rule club in a school where we were already being taught the Golden Rule (it's totes biblical) and where the students treated each other better than the teachers treated us? That was on the other side of a line I was not about to cross.

I'm so horrified that anyone thought we were going to get on board with this that I get flashbacks every Columbus Day.

So what are your Columbus Day memories?

1 comment:

  1. Oh man. The Golden Rule Club huh? I think you were smart for not budging on that one.

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