JANUARY 7, 2006
I rarely know anything that goes on in our monthly meeting of the “liberry’s” board of directors and that’s fine with me. What does trickle down to me often pisses me off and I would just get myself in trouble by opening my yap were I there to hear it first hand. This is particularly true when it comes to matters of our proposed new “liberry” building. (And I’ve kept my yap mostly shut about it online for two years now for fear of drawing the wrong attention to myself.) Friday’s meeting of the board was different, though. I might still have been in trouble, had I been there, but it would have been for laughing my fool ass off. My boss, Mrs. A, told the staff about it afterwards and assured us that it was a tale that will be retold for months to come.
Some time before the meeting, Mrs. A received a phone call from our eldest and longest-standing board-member, Mrs. Day. To date, Mrs. Day has not been at all wild about our campaign to build a new library. In fact, she voted against it for quite some time before Mr. Kreskin, our former board president, was able to convince her that it looked bad for one lone board member to keep voting against everything, so she jumped on board to save face.
On Friday morning, Mrs. Day phoned to inform Mrs. A that she had a major and exciting announcement to reveal at the board meeting. She wouldn’t give any indication what it regarded, but said it was something huge. Naturally, Mrs. A’s mind wandered to the possibilities. And while waiting for Mrs. Day to turn up for the meeting, Mrs. A and the other four board members—Mr. Eggs, Mrs. Emm, Mrs. Aitch and Dr. Watson—plus our press officer, Mrs. PR, mused aloud as to what the big news might be. Consensus of hope was that Mrs. Day had found someone to donate the remaining funds we need for the new building (around a cool million), but they found it more likely that she was merely going to take credit for securing a rather large donation a neighbor of hers had recently made that everyone already knew about.
Mrs. Day eventually rolled in for the meeting and after much smiling and excitement on her part, she finally revealed her big news. It seems that Mrs. Day has been in contact with everyone’s favorite cranky patron, annual $200 check-donator, frequent $200-donation revocation threatener, and third grumpiest old man in all the world, Mr. Crab, regarding what he might like to donate to the library’s building campaign. (All together now, “$200!”) Mr. Crab claimed that due to obscure IRS laws, he could not donate any actual money to the project because he had “already donated over a million dollars.” (I assumed when I heard this third-hand quote that Mr. Crab meant he’d already donated a million dollars to the library over the years, in which case he would have to be 5000 years old since he only ever gives us $200 at a pop. Now that I’ve thought about it, though, he probably meant he’d given a million dollars to various charitable contributions over the years—no doubt in $200 increments.) Instead of giving us any money, Mr. Crab said he wished to donate something far more valuable: an extensive antique German train set he’d collected and two, count em two, stuffed animals. And when I say "stuffed animals" I’m not talkin’ about Teddy bears or MonChiChis, I mean actual dead animals from Mr. Crab’s collection of animals he has shot, killed and had stuffed, taxidermy-style. According to Mrs. Day, Mr. Crab specifically wishes to donate two stuffed dead animal heads to be hung above the two fireplaces in the proposed new building.
From the way Mrs. A described it to me later, Mrs. Day couldn’t have been more thrilled about this donation. She beamed at the members of the board as she told them, barely able to contain her joy. This, to me, is merely proof that Mrs. Day's mind automatically defaults to the 1930s and 40s, when men such as Ernest Hemingway went around cheerfully blowing the hides off whatever creatures struck their fancy, for fun, then hung their corpses up for all to see and there were no activist groups to raise a stink about it. (By the way, while I think hunting for sport is abhorrent, I’m all for blowing the hides off of creatures you intend to eat, provided they are in season and/or the ranger isn’t looking. "Yeah, take my pic-a-nic basket again, you f*ckers!”)
The board’s reaction to the news was far more modern. I’m told Mrs. Emm and Mrs. PR began laughing openly at the absurdity of it; Mr. Eggs and Dr. Watson sat dumbfounded—Dr. Watson, particularly so, as this was his very first meeting as a board member; Mrs. A just shook her head in full knowledge of the kind of shit storm that would rain down on us from the local hippie-activist community should these heads actually make their way anywhere near our new building; and Mrs. Aitch was furious, but mostly at Mr. Crab’s assertion that there was some kind of million-dollar lifetime donation cut-off.
Between bursts of laughter, Mrs. Emm managed to ask what kind of heads Mr. Crab wished to give us. Mrs. Day wasn’t certain, but said that Mr. Crab has an elephant head above his own desk so maybe that would be one of them.
(It should be noted that Mr. Crab reportedly also has an elephant-leg golf-bag. You heard me... Elephant. Leg. Golf. Bag. When Mrs. A told me about it, I said, “That’s just awful. I mean, I can see an elephant-foot umbrella stand, and all, but a golf-bag is just excessive.” Mrs. A then said she really wished I had been at the meeting, because that was exactly the kind of running commentary that the board members began making around that time. Go board.)
For her part, Mrs. Day seemed oblivious to the ridicule the rest of the board was heaping on her major announcement. She must have thought their tearful laughter was out of joy at such a golden opportunity to turn our new library into some sort of big-game hunting lodge. She even further suggested that one of the heads might, in fact, be that of a polar bear, which Mr. Crab reportedly also owns.
Eventually, Mrs. Emm was able to compose herself long enough to suggest that we agree to accept the gifts, but only with no restrictions as to their use, so we would be free to sell the items to raise money for the project. Mr. Crab will most likely hate this, grump about it at length, retract his offer of donation and then threaten to withhold his $200 again.
“Well if he doesn’t stop acting so crappy to our staff, it’s going to be his head up above the fireplace cause they’re going to kill him,” Mrs. A reportedly told the board.
Soon the room calmed down a bit and the board began discussing such possibilities as a road trip to Mr. Crab's home in order to view the items proposed for donation. Immediately, various board members began vocally noting that they were likely to be out of town on that day, whatever day that should be, but Mrs. A insisted that such a trip could be delayed until all of them were able to attend.
After Mrs. A finished her tale for me, I advised her that we really did not want to be AT ALL beholden to Mr. Crab or we'd never hear the end of it until the day he died, and even then he'd probably have it set into his will that his heirs must continue to lord it over us until the end of time or be cut off from his reputed massive fortune.
Then I realized that it might be worth accepting Mr. Crab's animal heads, if only to piss off Mr. and Mrs. Smiley, who are among our more vocal militant animal rights types in the area and who have, in the past several months, continued desperately trying to torpedo this new building project using any stray hope they think might float no matter how ludicrous. Seeing an elephant head above our new fireplace might be just the thing to finally remove the remaining Grinchy vestiges of sanity they still possess.
(TO BE CONTINUED...)