'Matter of Laugh or Death,' a humor column
By Bill Dunn
Interesting observations on this thing we call life
(appearing each week in the Republican-American newspaper, Waterbury, CT)
STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND
Sometimes I think I’m a stranger in a strange land. Occasionally I have to travel out of town for two- or three-day sales conferences. When I first meet the other people who gather for these affairs, my industry compatriots from other parts of the country, they seem like nice, normal guys. We almost always hit it off immediately, talking shop, of course, but also discussing other shoot-the-breeze topics such as our families, sports, politics, cholesterol levels, and what to do about crabgrass in our lawns. (My solution to the crabgrass dilemma is the same one I use regarding cholesterol: pretend it’s not there.)
Overall, these other guys are regular, hard-working, middle-class shlubs—just like me. They’re the kind of people, as I often point out to anyone who will listen, that contribute to society rather than take from society.
Then, at some point during the conference, there is usually an opportunity to go to dinner together and relax. Quickly it becomes apparent that many of these normal, hard-working businessmen either have serious drinking problems or they somehow think being away from home means they’ve suddenly become 20-year-old college students once again. (Which, I guess, is just a different way of saying “serious drinking problem.”)
As someone who did a lifetime’s worth of drinking during my teens and 20s, and who, thank Jesus, was able to “put the plug in the jug” more than two decades ago, I tend to retreat quietly into my T-bone steak and ginger ale while the “Triple-S” fellas (Slurred Speech Shouters) do their thing.
The next morning at the 8 a.m. seminar, I’m so thankful that I am, as my kids might say, a “stick-in-the-mud.” I may not be Mr. Excitement, but at least for me the room is not spinning. I almost feel sorry for those hungover guys gulping coffee and struggling to focus on the PowerPoint presentation. (Come to think of it, I’m usually gulping coffee and struggling to focus, too, but at least I’m not on the verge of barfing.)
But any sympathy I might feel toward them starts to wane when during the mid-morning break they begin describing their adventures the previous evening at a local strip club. Or as those establishments prefer to be called, a “gentlemen’s club.” Although from the stories I overheard it seems that gentlemanly behavior was not exactly in abundant supply.
Are these the same guys who were telling me, just the day before, about their kid’s Little League game, their crabgrass battles, and yes, their lovely wives back home?
And that’s when I feel like a stranger in a strange land.
Is it me? Have I become such a teetotaling stick-in-the-mud that I no longer can comprehend a little harmless fun? Have I lost sight of the fact that these are the people who do not take from society but who rather contribute to society—including, apparently, contributing handfuls of cash into the G-strings of desperate young ladies to encourage them to continue degrading themselves before a howling crowd of men old enough to be their fathers?
What’s my problem, anyway? Don’t I understand that the slogan “What happens in Albany stays in Albany” means that it’s really no big deal? I mean, who’s getting hurt? It’s just a little good indecent fun, right?
I don’t know. Maybe I am out of touch with reality. But it just seems the harder those guys laughed about it, the sadder they were deep inside. And I can’t even imagine what effects their “enlightened” attitude toward women is having on their wives and especially their daughters. I guess I have to get used to being strange.
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