Club Dead members had unusual names.
1 Jane Doh
2 Sponge Bob
4 Alison Wunderland
5 Floor Pie
8 The Avenger
12 Dawn Belanger
Clearly, the members of Club Dead had identity issues.
Now that exemplified the black kettle and pot analogy. I had to caution myself of being different from them. They were me.
I put the signup sheet down and noticed that more than the twelve interviewees sat before me.
I counted twenty-four people. Only Dawn had been interviewed. The other eleven – now official members – had not attended the first meeting. I looked at the extra eleven people sitting in front of me and recognized them all.
One boy still huffed and puffed. The athletic girl wore the same hair band. The tattooed boy, who wanted to get down to business, still looked ready to go. The girl and boy middle-schoolers now held hands. The boy who said I was ’okay’ at the last meeting sat in front. Dawn’s boyfriend was awake but leaned back into his chair. He would be asleep soon. The death artist – Brink - sat off to my left.
“Well, it seems that Club Dead has grown,” I began. “Why don’t we start with the issue of names? I believe that many of the names on this list are not real. And in the interest of clear communication, might it not be wise to have names that we can more easily use?”
“You talk funny. Might that not be true?” That came from Brink.
I was talking strangely. I would not normally say things like “it seems” or “I believe.” Brink was totally right to call me out on my ’might it not be wise.” I sounded like Emma.
“What’s your name?”
“What’s that stand for?”
“It’s, well, a pseudonym.”
“What is it with you and the fancy talk? We are not honor students. Speak like a human!”
“It’s an alias, a fake name.”
“I knew it!” That came from Frank, who sat in the back. I smirked at him. He stuck his tongue out at me.
“So, your psedutonomos goes but mine doesn’t?”
“What would you like to be called?”
“It’s on the list.”
The crowd laughed.
“So, every time I want to speak to you I have to say “Hey, Sponge Bob?”
“And what about these newbies? They haven’t had an interview. What are they doing here?”
“Listen, we’re the original members. We were there at the first meeting.”
“No way! We’re the original!”
“And we don’t need no stinking interview. If we didn’t go to that first meeting, little CJ here and her club would have died that day. We kept the thing going.”
“In your dreams. If we didn’t show up for the interviews, that’s when Club Dead would have died. So we kept the flame of Club Dead alive.”
And it went like this for many minutes. Barren of an idea that would be useful, I tried to swim with the tide of the absurd.
“How about this: Let Dawn decide.”
“You were at the first meeting, you were interviewed and you are here. What do you say? Must they be interviewed?”
Everyone looked at Dawn.
“Nah, let ’em in.”
It started like a mummer, but its frequency built up until the venetian blinds shivered.
That went on for a while.
“How about an agenda? Don’t clubs have an agenda? Don’t you have one CK?”
“It’s CJ. In fact, no, I don’t have an agenda. From our initial meeting, I sensed that you were the not the type who would want an agenda.”
“Well, because it smacks of systems and institutions.”
“Yeah, well, and…?”
“And you guys hate them, don’t you?”
This was the third time that I had silenced Club Dead by exposing their behavior to be contradictory. That was a good sign. They were thoughtful.
“Okay, we hate the system but we want an agenda.”
“Yeah, big deal if we’re hypocrites.”
“Aren’t we all?”
That induced another minute of Club Dead chanting.
“Okay, we’ll have an agenda. What should be on it?” I asked.
“You’re the leader. You’re supposed to make it.”
“Because you’re the leader dorkhead!”
I tried to match numbers with speakers.
“But, Jane Doh, I thought Club Dead would thrive on the input of its members.”
“Will you talk English! And I’m not Jane Doh – I’m The Avenger.”
“Right, well, democratically speaking -”
“Look, it’s your club too. Not just mine. Come on, someone say something about death.”
“It sucks,” says the athlete, Alison Wunderland, which I later learned was her real name.
“Right,” said Floor Pie.
“And it hurts.”
“Well said Sponge Bob.”
“I’m drawn to death,” says Stoner.
“That’s sick,” said one of the non-interviewed.
“Hey, let’s have a rule,” said Alison
“No rules,” said the middle school boy. He blushed and lowered his eyes.
“Yes. No one can diss anyone.”
“I wasn’t dissing her. I just said it’s sick. I like her. He’s my friend.”
“She is. I’m okay with her saying that,” said Stoner.
“But still, we should make sure anyone can say anything without anyone making them feel bad.”
“It’s going to have to be something real screwed up to make me feel worse than I do,” said another anonymous newcomer.
“CJ, write up the rules of Club Dead,” Dawn said.
”Hey, why should she do it? Let’s have a secretary! We’re a club, right,” said Katniss.
“I’ll be the secretary. I’ve always wanted to be a secretary,” said a large boy who stood off to the side.
“Okay, you’re the secretary. What’s your name?” I asked.
“Does it have to be real?”
“We’ve kind of covered that.”
“Max! I’ve always wanted to be a Max.”
“Good choice,” I said.
For the remainder of the first session of Club Dead, members talked about death by accident, long-term illnesses, the Tibetan Book of the Dead, reincarnation, cremation, old folks’ homes, mummies, JFK, and the recent double suicide at Lodi High School, Blissfield’s arch rivals in football.
“That will close the first meeting of Club Dead,” I said.
“Second. It’s really the second.”
“Okay, the second. Is Monday good for our meetings?”
“Yeah, Monday sucks, so it’s good to talk about death.”
“Tuesday sucks more.”
“I vote Wednesday.”
“Are we really going to vote on this?” I asked.
“No, just razing you CJ. Monday’s cool.”
“And have an agenda next time.”
“Hey, let’s close on our chant.”
They chanted for only a few minutes but the venetian blinds still shivered.