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Shut My Mouth — Please!

by Rose Madeline Mula

How do I get involved in these things?

There I was at my strength training class at the Senior Center when Maggie, one of my co-sufferers, suggested that we might want to do something for another classmate, Valerie, who will be leaving us in a couple of weeks to move to a retirement home in another town.

"Maybe we could all take her to lunch," suggested Maggie.

"Great!" I agreed.

I should have quit while I was ahead and let Maggie pick up the ball from there. It was, after all, her idea — and her turn to speak.

But no. Before I could stop myself, I heard myself saying, "We can poll the group and see who would like to come."

There was no turning back now. I was in the thick of it. No longer just another participant in the proposed luncheon, I had now somehow become chief organizer.

During our water break, I mentioned the plan to a few of the others in the class, who all agreed it was a splendid idea. Valerie is a delight, after all. Everyone loves her.

One of the women suggested we have the luncheon at a charming little teashop that had recently opened nearby. Being British, Valerie enthusiastically endorsed the choice.

I waited for someone to offer to take the next step. Someone did. Me.

"I'll find out about it," I said.

That evening, at my computer, I explored the teashop's website. It did, indeed, sound charming. I explored its menu. Yikes! Though it featured many reasonably-priced salads and sandwiches, its highlight was a Duchess Afternoon Tea, at a price per person that only royalty could afford.

I foresaw a problem. Since restaurants rarely provide separate checks these days, what would happen when we got the bill? I had hoped to simply add the price of Valerie's lunch, plus an appropriate tip, and divide the total equally among the rest of us. I knew this would not fly if some ordered a sandwich and others ordered the Duchess Tea. The vision of one of the sandwich ladies whipping out a calculator to figure her exact share dismayed me.

Also, since only a few of the group were present at class the morning this plan was hatched, we now had the problem of making sure to notify all who might be interested.

Maggie suggested posting a notice at the Senior Center's reception desk. Again, the words left my mouth before I could block them.

"Not everyone stops by the desk," I said. "Some who might really want to come may not see the notice."

I had to point that out? Having done so, I then felt compelled to follow up.

"I'll e-mail the group," I said.

I perused the roster of class members. The good news was that the list does include e-mail addresses, as well as phone numbers. The bad news was that many of the ladies do not have e-mail. I foresaw at least two hours of phone calls to spread the news to the technologically challenged. After all, I can't simply ask if they'd like to come to a luncheon for Valerie; we'll have to chat a while. I don't want to seem unfriendly.

Then more bad news: I found that many of the e-mail addresses on the list are not current. Several bounced back to me as undeliverable. Now I have to call those women as well. I revised my phone call time estimate to three hours.

Also, in addition to the names on the list, I should contact several other women who no longer come to the class but who I know would love to attend a luncheon for Valerie. (Guess I'd better set aside four hours for the phone.)

OOOPS! Another obstacle looms. I recall that in addition to "charming," the teashop was described as "little." I have no idea how many ladies will be coming to our luncheon. Will the teashop be able to accommodate us all? If not, I will have to find another venue and then re-contact the women I've already reached. At least two more hours on the computer to research other restaurants, and then still more phone calls to the ladies to notify them of the switch. Short and sweet this time. To heck with the friendly chitchat.

Ridiculous! This event has taken on a life of its own — and is usurping too much of mine.

The next time someone says, "Why don't we ...." I'm going to answer, "Count me in!" and then immediately shut my mouth and make a beeline for the nearest exit.


Rose's book, The Stranger in My Mirror and Other Reflections is available by special order from most book stores, or on the web at www.amazon.com and www.barnesandnoble.com

Editor's Note: Rose Mula's most recent book, The Beautiful People and Other Aggravations, is now available at your favorite bookstore, through Amazon.com and other online bookstores, and through Pelican Publishing (800-843-1724), as is her previous book, If These Are Laugh Lines, I'm Having Way Too Much Fun.

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