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5:30 a.m. - 2001-10-19

LEMME AKS YOU ALL A QUEXSHUNS...

Sooooo...last night was the "big banquet" where I was to be honored for all my hard work and dedication to the American Cancer Society.

...And because I had raised a fair amount of duckies for the little urchins.

I didn't know what to expect really. I was told that "anyone who raised 10 grand or more" was going to be honored.

To me, that was a very small number. In my contest, only four of us had raised ten grand. Meaning four of us were going to be receiving awards.

We get there and there are a TON of cars in the parking lot. Granted, most cars weigh about half a ton anyway, and if you wanted to take me literally, that would mean there were about 2...3 cars max in the parking lot.

But what I meant was...a shitload of cars. And please...don't take me literally on that because I'm not exactly sure what constitutes a shitload.

Anyway, there's roughly 150 people there.

Annnnnnnnd...about one person that I recognized.

We sat down and ate our salads. Damned good greens there. Lotsa lettuce...a few cherry tomatoes...two cucumber slices...and crackers. There were THREE crackers on each plate. PLUS...oh get this now...we had our choice of either RANCH dressing or ITALIAN dressing!!!

CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?!?!

Here's the real kicker...I CHOSE ITALIAN!!

*sigh*

So anyway...we eat our salads and the master of ceremonies begins speaking. The emcee was the guy who won our little "Raising Money" contest last April. He was a former major with the Police Department and is now the Mayor's right-hand man.

...And he has the public speaking skills of a two year-old.

The few times that I have spoken one on one with the guy, I thought he was rather eloquent. But thinking back, I don't recall ever forcing the guy to say the word "ask".

Because he pronounces it "aks".

"Lemme aks you a quextion," he'd say. "What can the Americans Cancers Societys do to meets yo' espectation?"

The man kept making words that weren't supposed to be plural plural, and plural words he'd make singular. And anytime he ran across a word with an "s" buried in it...well...by God...let's give that an "x" sound because they're so close together.

"I have three kid and dey tell me 'Daddy, I don't want me no cancers for Christmases. I want me some bike'. When yo' three kid tail you that...that break yo' hearts."

The majority of the audience stared at him dumbfounded. Nobody knew that Buckwheat was still alive and the Mayor's right-hand man.

He could NOT say the word "Cosmotologists". That threw his ass for such a loop, he was dizzy after attempting it.

"And dese lady, dey haves them some funs workin like theys Cosmolo....Costo...Cuzzzamatic....you all know whats I's tryin' to say!"

I swear to GOD that's what he said. He got a laugh with that because the ignorant idiot was struggling like Rodney King and we all sat there and watched this train wreck continue.

We then ate dinner. I had teriyaki chicken with garlic mashed potatoes and green beans. Susie had prime rib...same side dishes.

We had peach cobbler for dessert. My blood sugar wasn't too thrilled about that.

Then, the awards started.

Apparently, and nobody told me this...these awards were for half the state. People had come from all over to receive their awards. The first couple of groups to get up there would represent entire counties and were taking home these beautiful clear stand-up awards...I'm trying to think of a better way to describe it, but I don't want to waste the time to actually think of an example of an award that I didn't receive.

I sat there, politely clapping and wondering where in the world was I going to be putting this big clear trophy deal when I received mine.

Some of you may have heard of the "Relay for Life" which is something that the Cancer Society does to raise money. Well...damned near everyone there had earned money in the Relay For Life. I think everyone got up there at least twice to accept an award.

Meanwhile, our emcee was battling a little thing called "reading" and "pronounciating". He was failing miserably at both.

At one point, he horribly mangled a company name that everyone knew. These people had raised something like $120 grand or something.

The name of the company...and I hate to write it here because of that damned Google...was Schlumberger.

It's pronounced "Schlum-ber-zhay" like it was French. Kinda like "Faberge".

He pronounced it "Schlumburger".

The crowd began chuckling and a man stood up in the audience and said he didn't want to seem out of place, but the name of the company is pronounced "Schlum-ber-zhay".

The audience laughed and applauded.

The emcee was embarrassed and said that he doesn't normally use glasses to read, but to see people and he was having trouble reading the words up there.

Oh.

Then tell me something, sir....WHY IN THE HELL DID YOU AGREE TO BE THE EMCEE OF THIS SHOW IF YOU CAN'T F'N READ???

He finally got around to my competition. First, he patted himself on the back for winning the competition, which everyone applauded for.

Then he introduced me.

...And of course...he mangled my last name beyond any hope of faint recognition.

Granted...he would have pronounced "Smith" "Smiff", so I wasn't too offended.

But he added more letters and syllables to my last name than I've ever had added before.

My last name...for those of you who don't know...is "***".

Not "***". It's close to "****", but it has an "*" instead of an "*".

I've lived my entire life having people call me "****". That's fine. There's a lot of illiterate and ignorant sonsofbitches out there that think I don't know how to spell my own goddamned name and pronounce it how they think it should be pronounced. I've always just politely corrected people when I thought the situation justified a correction.

He called me "******".

At that point, a giant picture of me appeared on a screen on the stage that I had to walk across.

Now...everyone before me had the same thing happen to them. They had been flashing everyone's pics when they announced their names. Please don't think I was a special guy who got more attention than everyone else.

And the ACS HAS my publicity photo that they used in their advertisements back in April.

But they chose to run the most gawdawful ugly picture of me I've ever seen.

It was apparently taken without my knowledge at one of the parties we had back in April. My eyes were half shut, and I looked positively smashed in the photo. I had half a grin on, my hair was messed up and I looked like the most absolute biggest dork ever.

When that pic came up, I was halfway to the stage. When I saw it, I almost hurried up and grabbed a seat, because I didn't want to have to admit that I was about the most unphotogenic bastard in the room.

I got up there and the emcee shook my hand and said "Congratulation, Mr. *****."

"Thank you," I said with a fake smile plastered on my face.

I then walked on stage and prepared my arms for one of these big clear trophies.

A lady handed me a little giftwrapped box and shook my hand and told me to please leave the stage and not cause any commotion.

I was confused but I kept walking. I had my photo taken with the fake smile still plastered on my mug, then went back to my table.

For the next hour, I watched other people I had never heard of receive award after award. Finally, it was time for our guest speaker...a "dynamic" speaker according to our emcee.

This guy got up there who had been battling leukemia since 1994. He lost his job, his wife, his kids, his home, his health...everything.

This guy SERIOUSLY had nothing left to live for.

Then, the Cancer Society made him a spokesman. And these days he gets to tell large groups of strangers his sob story. So now he's happy. He gets to spread his misery around to others.

This guy was about as dynamic a speaker as my son Andrew is. Hell...at least Andy makes more sense with his limited vocabulary.

The most comical thing about this guy's "speech" is that he had so many freakin' closings. A speech should go out on a high note, right? This guy had about three dozen high notes. He didn't know when to quit. Here's an excerpt:

"A great pesident one said "Aks not what yo' cunfrey can do wit' you, aks what you can do for yo' cunfrey." I's says "Aks not what de Americans Cancers Societys can do fo' you...aks what you can do fo' de Americans Cancers Societys." Because when de goin' gets tough, the tough get goin's. A bird in de hand is worth a bush loads of bird. Why can'ts we all jes' git along? Who lets the dog outs? In contusion, I's likes to say ...Who lets the dog outs, peoples? Who? Did I mention the pesident comment? Give bone marrows. Got blex Americas."

It just kept going and going and going. I kept expecting a big toy bunny to come out beating a drum and pushing him away from the podium.

As soon as he finished embarrassing himself, Susie and I headed for the doors like a plane had just crashed into the building.

We got in the car, I revved it up and pulled out of the parking lot.

"Can I open the gift," she asked.

"Sure," I said. "I'm sure it's just a little plaque that's probably not personalized."

Holy shit.

A paperweight.

I raised over ten grand for these people. And even though I never expected anything in return...I sure as hell didn't expect a paperweight.

So now I have a paperweight. I think it's my first one that wasn't actually a painted rock from a nephew or niece.

I'm sure it'll look great on a yard sale table someday.

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