Family Function

Hey All,

So I’m at LAX waiting to board the flight headin’ for Michigan.  Killing time, I see this Hell’s Angel guy polishing off his jumbo-sized Burger King soda.  It’s the same guy standing behind me 10 minutes earlier in the security line.  He’s got the full Angel gear on and looking pretty nasty.  Kids are crying — no one looks directly at him fearing he'll slit their throat.  However, having spent several hours at the jail earlier in the day surrounded by similar looking lads — what the hell, I had yakked a few lines with him while going thru the mental detector.  He’s fine — just a bit intimidating with his appearance.  So now with more time to kill, I stroll on over and we start yakking it up again.  One thing about working at the public defenders office — some people will think you’re disgusting for representing criminals.  Others will respect you for it.  Guess what this guy thought? 

So we’re chattin’ up a storm — he’s telling me about the “brothers” and the different functions he’s been attending.  He's a big to-do in the org. and travels the world attending their social functions.  He was on his way back from the Philippines chapter.  Next month was some location in Euroland to celeb a 25-year charter org.  Amsterdam is his fav place.  Clubhouse in the red light district, I think.  Did you know there’s an Angel chapter in every country?  I sure didn’t.  This is useful stuff!!  We keep chatting when this big guy comes over and butts in.  Starts talking to the Angel guy about some other motorcycle club he was in and all the fighting between the two groups.  The burley guy used to be color guard for the other MC.  Conversation is jovial but I’m wondering if something gonna break out between them. I’m chiming in with my one-liners and holding my own.  We all decide to go have a beer and the conversation continues over a brew.  I ask the burley guy if he’s going to Michigan with us.  “Na — I’m headed to Minnesota”.  After a few more minutes burley guy leaves.  I look at Angel and go — “was that the governor or ex-governor of Minnesota??”  Angel goes — “Sorta looked like him”.  We gotta find out.  So, me and Angel stroll thru the terminal to where burley guy is sitting.  “Hey, is your name Ventura?” — “Yup.”

We yak for a few moments and then it’s time to board.  Handshakes all around and off I go.  Angel gives me his web site telling me if I’m in his neck of the woods, stop on by — the Brothers will take care of me.  Cool!!!  Yakking it up with Jessie "the Body" Ventura and the Hell’s Angels.  Didn’t need a plane ticket to tell me I was headin’ for Michigan...

It’s the red–eye flight and that sucks.  But I get to the Great Lake State and it’s that time of the year with colors changing and glorious weather to die for — just great.  The reason I go ain’t so great.  Actually, there are a couple of ‘em  — the first one is the downer.  Time to start cleaning the family home.  Three years since the last parent moved on the to the next life and not much has happened to the home since.  There are bunch of reasons why it’s taken so long however it’s time to start. Lots to do since it’s been the family home since ’55.  Sister #2 is heading up from Indy to help.  She’s moving her family back over the summer so, in a sense, there’s a new life for the old sod and that a good thing!  The other reason — anytime I can get all four siblings together in one place is a great thing.  It gets harder once the folks are gone and the longer they’re gone the harder it gets — no real center to the family anymore.  People start splintering off.  Well, here was a reason, not the home issue cause two of the four kids want nuttin’ to do with it — however University of Michigan has this breakfast once a year.  The folks set up a scholarship there.  Once a year the University has a breakfast thankin’ the scholarship donors and placing them at tables with scholarship recipients.  This could be fun!  What better way to start the day with a free breakfast and major butt kissin’.  Although it’s my folks who set it up their butts aren’t around to be kissed — however mine is available!!  All four siblings will be in the area and with some gentle arm-twisting; we’ll clan up for the event.  Get some ever-elusive pictures of us in one place.  Add to that some butt kissing and breakfast — sounds great to me. 

Morning of the breakfast I head over to the Dearborn Inn — a great old hotel built by Henry himself for Ford executives in the early ‘20’s.  Recently restored, it looks great.  But it’s freakin’ 7:15am, cold and dark.  I gets outta the car, my mom’s ’84 caddy with 3 yr old expired tags.  HEY, any caddy in the Detroit over 15yrs old ain’t registered — why should mine!  Anyway I makes my way thru the parking lot to the front door.  This guy, looking a bit like Dr Phil sees me and angles over.  Way too upbeat with his super big smile, “Gooood Morning!!”  Yeah… sure… dude, it’s 7:15 in the morning.  I’m thinking this guy is either a car salesman or one of them college boosters that got basketball program at U or M a nice NCAA suspension.  We hit the door together and more the same — he opens it for me and again, more toothy smiles — I’m thinking this guy is up for selling something. 

Well — I rendezvous with brother and two sisters.  All four of us in one place — mission accomplished.  We look nice all dressed up sportin’ our nametags.  Immediately people come up and intro themselves.  Director of this and Head of that — “So nice to see you all… I knew your parents… Wonderful folks…” Lots of people, some with walkers which is the tell tail sign of a donor!  Some young, fresh faced college kids — guess they are scholarship recipients.  So far, so good... 

They open the doors for breakfast and it a gorgeous room all done up.  20 huge round tables and we’re seated at table #2.  There are some college kids there and they recognize our name and the butt kissin’ begins — “Thank you for the scholarship… it helps so much…  I have a little gift you.”  All nice stuff.  Seated on the other side of the table is the parking lot guy.  However it’s such a big table you almost need a bullhorn to speak to him.  We wave during the intros and he’s still smiling — this dude is totally in his element.  My brother shows me this card, which is at every place setting.  It’s a “What to ask the person next to you” card.  There’re six questions so you can converse with others seated at your table — a conversational cheat-sheet.  So I try it out on my brother, Question #1 “What brings you here today?”  Answer, “I am here today because I heard there was a free breakfast buffet…”  The parking lot guy shoots over a look.  Bro figures it’s a good time to tell me his Chris Webber joke.  You know… formerly of U of M whose testimony got the school an NCAA suspension.  The joke goes,  “Hey Chris, if a college booster pays you 25K one semester and 50K another semester — how much money have you been paid?  75K??  WRONG!!! — The correct answer in ZERO, you have been paid ZERO!!!”  Parking lot guy glances over again.  O well — it’s too early to worry about faux pas and on to the buffet. 

MY GOSH — can people in the mid-west pack away the food.  They just pile it on the plates.  I like buffet lines however I have always wondered if people are really as civil and patient as they appear to be when standing in one.  I mean, everyone is always smiling and being nicey nice. Is that what they’re really thinking?  Am I the only one that wants to bark at that one person “Put the damm sausage on your plate and move the hell on you moron!!”  One sister returns with a huge pile of food looking at my brother’s plate with an equally mountainous pile.  They look at each other — “I won’t comment on your plate if you don’t comment on mine!”  We sit — we eat — we ask our neighbors the questions written out for us.  Now it’s speech time.  My doctor bro’s experiences at countless pharmaceutical rep dinners clues us in this is the time to stock up before the buffet shuts down.  Off we go…  Someone gets up and intros the University Dean.  He has some nice words and even mentions us to the crowd.  Only problem, IT’S THE MAN IN THE PARKING LOT!!!  The man sitting at our table, the man looking at us each time something goofy flew out of our mouths.  Oh well, its our scholarship — what the heck if we can’t have a little fun.  More speeches and it’s time to have photos taken with the scholarship recipients.  Off we go when one sister has a high heel snap off.  It’s a disaster.  She can’t walk.  She hobbles off into the bathroom to collect herself.  The crowd pours into the waiting area.  A few moments later sister mergers from the bathroom walking totally lopsided — she blurts out with a chuckle, “I didn’t know they were serving mimosas here!!!”  Naturally, who is within earshot but the Dean and his eyes open up like silver dollar.  She starts gimping around doing her Ricardo Montalban impersonation — “Tattoo!! Tattoo!!”  I guess Montalban had a limp or something…  Anyway, we get the picture taken and bail.  I make a point to say adios to the Dean — same smile but who knows what he’s really thinking?  However it was a good morning — saw how the scholarship program works while meeting some really deserving students.  Best of all the four of us kids got together — had some laughs and I’m sure if my parents were around would have been equally as happy. 



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