Howdy fellow ABATErs,
Because of my deadline (when I have to have this written and sent in by), in this issue I probably won’t be able to tell ya’ll about THIS year’s ABATE Legislative Seminar held at Deer Creek State Park and Lodge 1/31/14 to 2/3/14. We’ll see how it goes later in the column. Usually I never know what the hell I’m gonna write about until I actually start doing it. As I write these words, it’s early January and I haven’t even gone to the seminar yet. But I DID finish putting new strings on the old Gibson, and I’m making a list of stuff to take. So for now, I’m gonna tell ya a story of what happened at another seminar a while back......
For THAT seminar, I was asked to present our then regional director, a great guy and old friend named Rick Deeter, with an award in front of the combined assembly in the main conference room. I prepared my presentation days in advance with humorous and personal reminiscences and I thought, ‘This will be funny as hell!’ I’ve spoken in front of people before and I usually have no problem with it. First off, no matter what I’m talking about, I usually say something funny to lighten up the crowd and get their attention. Well, this time, I approached the podium in the huge room and began telling everyone a few funny things about Deeter, which isn’t hard to do because he’s such a character. EVERYBODY who knows him has some funny stories!
Anyway, after a few sentences I looked up from my notes smiling at the crowd, and not one person was laughing! Not even a damned smile or two! So I thought I’d lay the best joke of the speech on them by going on with, “I’m often asked why our region is named Zero. Was it the very first region? And I would always answer that with, “No actually. At that time it was the region most recently formed.” I then went on to explain that, “We called it Zero because it’s the only number that’s shaped like an a$$hole.” while I formed a circle with my hand and pointed it to the audience. Now I thought THIS should really bring down the house! But nothing. Once again, not even a smile from anyone. If it wasn’t for the familiar faces, I would have thought I was in the wrong room with a bunch of Amish men.....with mustaches! I’m even thinking at this point, ‘Is there something dangling out of my nose? Is my zipper down and I’m hanging out? No....that would make them laugh even more!’ I just didn’t know what to think! So I went on with a few more lines, chuckling and even waving my arms like an idiot for emphasis, and still nothing. Like a bad comedian I’m thinking, ’I’m dying out here!’
Then someone from the audience comes up to the podium and whispers to me, “Bummer, the microphone isn’t turned on.”
I then realized THAT is why most people ALWAYS tap the mike and say “Testing, testing.” I just didn’t think to do that because back in the days when I was on stage making music our roadies would intentionally leave the mikes on after their sound check so we could jump right into a tune after being introduced.
Later in the day, someone from another region (and you know who you are, and it certainly wasn’t anyone from a fine region like Zero) lit a cigar under a smoke alarm and the WHOLE damned hotel had to be evacuated outside into the cold, snowy parking lot. And we had to wait there freezing our butts off until the fire trucks came and told us it was safe to re-enter.
After we all came in and warmed up, an attorney was set up in a small room offering to draft free wills to any member who wanted one. It had been many years since I had one drawn up, so I decided to take advantage of it and make a few changes.
Now, I have a big old leather-covered tool box that belonged to my grandfather. He was a machinist, and a machinists’ toolbox is very specific with dies, calipers, and other various precise tools of the trade. It even has my grandfather’s name on it. One day, Deeter (who is like a brother to me), was in my garage and noticing it, he told me how much he admired it and could really use the tools and instruments within. But the day of the seminar, when I had my new will made, I had forgotten all about that.
Since I was single and my boys were just youngsters, I decided to leave my ashes to my good friend Deeter to do with as he chose, and worded it just that way. ‘He’d really appreciate this honor!’ I thought at the time. When I left the lawyer’s room, I saw Rick in the hallway and called him over to me. I thrust a copy of my new will into his hands and smiled as I asked him to read it because he was mentioned in it.
He stopped sipping his beer, read it, and looked up at me yelling, “YOUR ASHES?? Damn! I thought you were leaving me your grandfather’s toolbox!” At that point I decided to change it yet again leaving my ashes to the boys and the damned toolbox to Deeter. The boys would understand. They’ll get the house and the rest of the stuff anyway.
Later that evening, after all the classes, after the banquet, and after all the awards and ceremonies were finished and the actual partying had begun, as often happens, a bunch of people came to my room to sit around (as we often do) to bark at the moon and sing old songs as TJ and I take turns banging on the guitar.
After a few hours of this, I was told that the hotel manager was at the door and wanted to speak to me. I handed my guitar to TJ and I went to the door to see what she wanted. She informed me that we were being way too loud. I told her we’ll tone it down and that was that (for then). Later she returned saying the same thing (how repetitive some people can be!), and this time I apparently (because I don’t remember this) told her to go away and to, “Go ahead and call the damned cops” if she wanted to. To which she apparently replied (according to others) that two airline pilots were staying above my room and they needed their sleep for an early flight the next day. I (apparently) answered by suggesting she move them to another room if they were being such crybabies.
Now, at this point I feel I need to say that I’m never belligerent to strangers, unless they drive like idiots when I’m on the scoot. I’m usually very courteous and I’m rarely rude to anyone. But, I guess me and my old buddy Yukon Jack actually made the poor woman cry.
When told of this the next day over breakfast, I felt SO bad that I went straight to the front desk and finding the woman still working, I profusely apologized in the name of myself, ABATE of Ohio, bikers, and all men in general, promising that it will never happen again. She replied with, “Do you know I had to move those airline pilots? They probably didn’t get any sleep!” and then she started crying again! ‘Wow.’ I thought, ‘I’d hate to have HER job.’
As I walked away I thought I should get a newspaper to see if any flights crashed leaving the Columbus airport. Then, two room cleaners who overheard all this pulled me aside and quietly said, “Good for you! That woman is such a bi%ch!!!” which made me feel a little better about things. As it all turned out, we were invited to return with our seminar the next year, so I guess maybe my heartfelt apologies must have meant something. Either way, for some reason SHE wasn’t there the next year and I think there were even more people in my room with no issues whatsoever.
But THIS year (in 2014) I was told the rooms aren’t practical for a whole bunch of people. So we’ll probably just use the hallway.