How to blow up a meeting (encore edition)
A few times a year, when my brain is broken, we run what I like to call an encore edition of “Here’s Johnny.” The following column, based partly on true stories, was published one year ago tomorrow.
I know what you’re thinking after reading the headline: “Finally, something useful on page two!”
However, the events that occurred the previous Friday afternoon were not intended to change the lives of Sun employees, Dear Readers or even to merely fill a column. Perhaps I was channeling Jim Morrison, who once admitted of a certain incident in Miami, “Let’s just say I was testing the bounds of reality. I was curious to see what would happen. That’s all it was: just curiosity.”
The meeting was going as it normally does. Publisher Whit Chandler – one of my favorite people, and not just because he signs my paychecks – had suggested an issue devoted to Woodford County history would be a winner. (I happen to agree – and not just because Whit signs my paychecks.)
Having been to the Woodford County Historical Society a time or two, I suggested the Rose Hill Avenue institution would be a great source of photos from the past. However…
I said I’d noticed something when I sorted through old photographs: A clown who popped up in pictures every 27 years or so. I explained that he’d also been seen in storm drains, sometimes with a balloon or two in hand.
(Henceforth, names will be withheld so as to avoid embarrassment, firings or both.)
After 30 seconds or so, at least one person was on to my tall tale – the transplanting of Pennywise, the demonic clown in the new movie, “It,” to real-life Versailles. I hadn’t even seen the movie, but had already creeped out a dear friend by texting a photo of Pennywise.
Everyone else seemed sucked in, though – like rain into a storm drain.
“What was that clown’s name?” one attendee asked.
“Pennywise,” I replied.
The rest of the crew was still getting up to speed on the reality vs. myth thing, and I began to fear that I would have to write a story for this week’s paper about the long-lived clown. So I ‘fessed up – but the meeting continued its merry way downhill, like rain down a…
Talk turned to scary movies, and how, after seeing “It,” an adult relative of one employee chose to keep a few extra lights on at bedtime. “Jaws” was cited, and the flying monkeys from “The Wizard of Oz.”
I wished I’d brought my recorder into the meeting.
My notes reveal that other frightening matters, ranging from gas prices to North Korea, were discussed. Eventually, it was resolved that none of the meeting-goers would see “It,” though I will almost certainly ignore that resolution.
I was not a good note-taker that day, so I can’t explain how the conversation turned to the subject of county constables. Whit told how in the 1990s, some mischievous friends put his name on the ballot and, by a vote of 5 to 3 (he thought), he became a county constable.
I suggested I might make a good county constable, and no one disagreed too vehemently. Campaign slogans like “Make Woodford County Great Again” were offered, and I declared I would run on a law and order platform and return the county to the orderly rule of Constable Whit Chandler.
“I ran a tight ship,” Whit said, though he might have been pulling our legs a bit.
Whit said I might have to occasionally clear out a bar with a “Buford” – a reference to the movie, “Walking Tall” and its character of Buford Pusser, a club-wielding sheriff played by Joe Don Baker. I offered a campaign slogan, “Walking Taller,” which I realized, when I looked up Pusser later, would be misleading, as the real-life sheriff/constable was three inches taller than yours truly.
Well off the rails now, the meeting began to limp to a close. Someone asked about the name of the clown again, perhaps because he or she still thought it might be real.
There was a very pregnant pause, then Whit asked, “Well, does anyone want to bring up anything?”
No one did, perhaps because they were still frightened by thoughts of Pennywise or his sworn enemy, Constable McGary.
Speaking of which, the “C” that is my middle initial now stands for constable.
John Constable McGary. I sort of like that.