Wednesday, March 25, 2009

clubs




How many clubs do you belong to? I don’t mean clubs like the Moose or the Elks, although they might not like being called a “club”. I think the proper term is a “fraternal organization”. Countrymouse was an Elk for several years when the pups were younger. While the Elks actually embody all the precepts he holds dear (and at the risk of being black-balled from any future membership), we joined so our pups could use the pool. I’m talking about the clubs that we just find ourselves in. Since clubs are technically the formal association of people with similar interests, it’s almost an oxymoron to say we are in clubs we don’t join. Nevertheless, this, in actuality, is what happens.


For instance, as I’ve mentioned, I drive a Wrangler. Without ever signing up for a membership, I am part of the Wrangler club. Some Wrangler drivers really embrace this membership; while others, I’m sure, think it silly. I think these reluctant members drive all the new, fancy Wranglers. You know, like the Wrangler Unlimited, that actually has 4 doors. Sacrilege! (I am a Jeep purist. I won’t let Countrymouse put doors with glass windows on my Jeep because it just wouldn’t be right.) Members of the Wrangler club do “the wave”. We each have our own special take on this. Mine is sorta the “I’m cool” upwards flick of the left wrist on the steering wheel. The really cool ones involve waving from above the windshield when the top is off. I can’t seem to master this. I always feel like I look like I am on a rollercoaster ride. I didn’t know about this club until I started driving the Wrangler. (Notice I say Wrangler and not Jeep. This club is only open to Wrangler drivers. Don’t try waving if you drive a Grand Cherokee or a Liberty. People will just think you are being friendly.) These days if I pass another Wrangler and don’t wave, I feel like I’ve slighted my fellow Wrangler club member. (Makes the whole shifting gears-drinking coffee-talking on my cell phone-thing even trickier.)


I wasn’t totally surprised about the Wrangler Wave, even though I had no idea it existed. Several years before I got the Wrangler I got my motorcycle license. On my first *long* trip (meaning a whopping 50 miles), I passed lots of fellow cyclers (I say cyclers and not bikers because I think there’s a difference). Every last one of them waved at me. This wave is more of an extend your arm all the way out with your hand pointed toward the pavement… maybe like where your arm might be as you start a jumping jack. I mentioned this to Countrymouse when I got home. His reaction was “duh”. He’d been driving a motorcycle for years by this point. Maybe it’s a guy thing, but I am sure even with my helmet on I looked like a girl, so it was no mistake. Needless to say, guy thing or not, I began waving my little citymouse heart out.


There’s the twin club too. Pups #4 and #5 are twins. I remember when they were newborns, I would have absolute strangers walk up to me (interestingly enough, without any pups of their own in tow) and say, “Oh honey, hang in there… it gets easier.” There was some comfort in hearing that, even if it was mixed with my own sleep-deprived cynicism. I found some reassurance in knowing there was this silent sorority cheering me on. I knew that I was a full-fledged member of this club when I myself walked up to a lady in Wal-Mart and uttered those very same words. Seeing her deer-in-the-headlight look made me wonder what my own face had looked like so many years earlier. I knew it would get easier, even if she didn’t. I knew she would remember my words one day… the day she embraced her own membership by welcoming someone new to the club.


My niece belongs to a club. She belongs to the Military Wives club. I only can speak from observation about this club, but I am confident of its existence. When her husband was still in basic training, she immersed herself in this sisterhood. I was astounded that she learned so much about military life without having ever lived on a base or having had to navigate any of its systems. The universal bond among these women brought on by one common choice was enough to join them. Obviously, this club is different from the Wrangler Wave club… screwing up the wave has no impact on my life. Not knowing the ins and outs of military life could be devastating. The women in this club have a deeper motivation than the subtle nod and wink Wrangler drivers share. It’s a kindhearted mission.


Club membership, by choice or tacit affiliation, generally is positive thing. It can be nothing more than a way to say I like your style, like driving a motorcycle or Wrangler, I feel your pain (twin parenthood), or we’re in this together like the military wives. Even if something tragic has prompted your membership in a particular club, the outcome of that membership, optimumly, is one of support and comfort. We all enjoy knowing we’re not alone out there. Even if someone does not appreciate the *whole* you, most of us will still raise our hand for the Wrangler Wave.


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