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11:07:21 - 2000-03-18

I'VE GOT A REAL BEEF WITH THESE PEOPLE

Have you ever gotten sucked into hanging out with a buncha geeks on false pretenses?

The other day, I received a phone call asking me if I could come judge a speech contest for some high school kids.

"Sure," I said. "Anything for my community. What day and what time?"

"Saturday at 7:30 a.m."

SCREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEECHHH!!!!

(The sound of brakes being slammed on...sorry...not one of my better cyber-impressions)

"What time???"

"I'm sorry, Mr. Uncle Bob, I know it's early and asking a lot, but can you make it??"

Grumble, grumble, grumble.

"Yeah sure, I'll be there."

So I get there at 7:30 this morning.

First off, I'm greeted by Coffee Lady. I didn't bother to memorize her name. Actually, I never heard her name when she introduced me. It was blanketed by a cloud of stank assed coffee breath.

Coffee breath is perhaps one of the WORST bad breaths people can have. Something about a mouth that has been simmering in hot caffeine early in the morning is enough to make me hurl.

And this lady had no concept of "personal space" either. She was all up in my face, trying to explain the contest to me with her foul-assed coffee breath.

Meanwhile, I adapted the whole "mouth breather" stance because I knew that if I accidently breathed another whiff of this woman's breath, I would be decorating the room in a lovely shade of puke.

I found out exactly what I would be doing. I was judging the state finals of the Alabama Cattlewoman's .....well...shit....I guess I DIDN'T find out exactly what I was doing. It had something to do with the rodeo being in town, but I have no idea who these people were associated with.

Basically, students from across the state were getting up in front of me and trying to persuade me that beef was actually good for me.

Hey...no argument from yer portly Uncle Bob. I love the shit. Hell, I put steak on everything. Waffles, fruit salad, fried shrimp...everything tastes better with steak on top.

Nine students from across the state were supposed to be there to give their presentations.

Three showed up.

I got up, got ready, looked DAMNED GOOD (for me) and was at the building at 7:30 a.m. on a Saturday....FOR THREE DAMNED STUDENTS?!?!?!

I mean...I'm sorry....but this calls for a group grumble...say it with me....

...grumble, grumble, grumble....

Oh well...maybe my "appearance fee" would make it all worthwhile. Last year I got $50 for judging Miss Rodeo Alabama. Seeing as how this was almost the same thing (Miss Rodeo Alabama ... Miss Know Everything About Cows), maybe the payoff would be the same.

I clapped my hands in greedy anticipation, quickly remembered I was in public and not at home in the shower and dropped my hands back into my lap discretely.

The lady in charge of this whole shebang was a certified nut case. She was taking this shit seriously. Like ..."Beef can save the world" kinda serious.

Lady. It's fucking meat loaf. It's not going to solve global economics.

I sat there...coat and tie...lookin' mighty dapper I might add...it's the haircut actually ... listening to this woman drone on and on about beef this and beef that and I just wanted to say "DAMMIT woman!! Cut it short for Christ's sakes...Saved By The Bell is on!!!"

But I didn't. So we sat there and listened to her prattle on some more and thank everyone in attendance individually.

Indifuckinvidually.

I sat there, mouth agape, staring at this woman. I was in awe that anyone would take up my valuable time by mentioning everyone in an audience and wistfully recollect past memories of said person and beef.

Granted...this thing was soooooooo lame...there were maybe 20 people in the audience all total. So that only took about ten minutes.

All 20 people salivating for stories about beef and everything beefy.

The first kid took the stage. For five minutes, this guy acted like he was about to be shot. His voice was wavering like the cop in "Reservoir Dogs" who gets his ear sliced off. I sat there thinking "I am the reason this kid is nervous. I am sitting here staring at him, and he has worked so hard for so long to impress me and these two other slugs next to me and he's losing it by the second."

So ... me...in my infinite wisdom, think "Hey...make the kid feel better."

So I smile.

Probably too big of a smile.

It was a smile that said "Your zipper's unzipped, but I ain't saying shit".

This sent the kid into a downward spiral of stuttering, sputtering and muttering. He was beginning to perspire and I was beginning to think "Shoulda worn an undershirt there, Sonny."

He spoke for five minutes about transferring embryos.

That's all I remember. He was barely enthused about it himself, so I didn't feel the need to really get into the subject matter either.

The second contestant did great. Her speech was personable, but once again, she rattled it off like it was a prayer ... no enthusiasm.

The highlight of her speech was that her posters kept falling. She dropped two things on the floor and toward the end of her presentation, four posters just slowly fell off the easel and smacked against the floor, filling the empty auditorium with a deafening THWAP!!!

I'll give her credit. She kept plowing along.

And I bit the inside of my cheek to keep from bursting out laughing.

....Am I giving you some insight into the mind of a contest judge???

The third girl won. She did a great job, great speaking voice, great enthusiasm, she knew her subject and her topic was "You Just Can't Beat That Meat", which had me giggling like a horny schoolgirl.

Us three judges went back to the "sequester room" where we just looked at each other and said "Number three."

Anyway ... so now this little 16 year old is $500 richer, she gets to go speak at all these different luncheons and she's going to San Francisco in November to compete for the state of Alabama in the National Let's Talk About Beef Until We Puke Convention.

OH!! Heh...this killed me... Last year's winner was on hand to congratulate this year's winner, and she gave a little pep talk before the speeches started.

A pep talk about representing beef.

To me, it was surreal. She was saying stuff like "You will set forth to dispel the myths and rumors about beef and to spread the joy that beef can bring not only to ourselves, but to our country as well"

(Insert strains of "Star Spangled Banner" here)

She was standing right next to me as she gave her speech and at one point during her manifesto, she started lambasting the media and the role the media plays in scaring consumers about the dangers of "beef".

I wanted to say..."Sweetie...I AM media..."

Anyway...she closed her speech with a long story that I'm going to try to condense here and share with you because I think a lot of you need to hear it.

A little boy is sitting on a beach throwing starfish into the ocean.

An old man approaches him and says "I know you're trying to save those starfish son, but you're never going to be able to get them all back in the ocean by the time they die, so you're really not making a difference."

The little boy threw another starfish in the ocean and said "But to THAT starfish, I just made a difference."

......Now then...what the fuck does that have to do with beef??

I booed when she was done. And threw half a cinnamon roll at her head while screaming "YOU SUCK!!!" as she left the stage in tears.

Oh....today's appearance fee???

A basket of Alabama Cattlemen's Association "goodies", including a coffee mug, candy, handkerchiefs, aprons, meat thermometers,a $10 beef gift certificate and a book of beef recipes.

Plus...the basket will make a lovely hanging basket for plants.

I knew I shoulda stayed in bed.

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