WELCOME TO THE CLUB
Since 1936, our association of business executives [Anglo-Saxon men] has been exchanging business and good fellowship [ritualistic hazing] to the tune of over a million dollars worth of business each year [for us] .
We are a "one-classification" club [white men only] ensuring exclusivity to our members, and limit our membership to owners or executives [masters of the universe] of the companies represented. To find out more about our association, whether there is an opening in your classification [white men only] or with any general inquiries, please CONTACT US and we'll answer any questions you might have.
--from their website homepage.
--Due to a mix up at the Country Club, I had a rare glimpse into the culture of an all male-Anglo-Saxon breakfast club. I was the server for the monthly meeting that brings together a closed bro-club of 40y/o and up [80's] white business owners. The group was a mix of upper-middle-class to lower-upper-class, a few blue collar owners--handyman service, lawn care, small construction and remodeling-- to white collar personal injury lawyers, used car dealers, insurance brokers, one business that dealt in Medicare and Medicaid patients, a business that helped businesses become better businesses, accounting. All for one, one for all in the club of parasites. [I realize this is a pejorative but bear with me.]
The breakfast began with usual meet and greet. Coffee and chitchat. Mostly about money, how things have changed, money, and the past weekend's St Pats celebrations, and money. The host was courteous and happy we could accommodate the group after discovering the country club they usually meet at was closed for spring break. [How dare they!] The room began to fill with about 50 men in the age range of early 40's to late 80's. Breakfast commenced with the usual fare of eggs, bacon, [lots of bacon] potatoes and grits and pancakes. Very orderly with their plates scooping up the steaming selections. Pretty low maintenance from a server's point of view. The only crises were running out of coffee and bacon. Soon after, the meeting was called to order.
It began with the usual reading of the minutes of the prior board meeting. BLAH blah blah. I must say I took interest as I have in many of the breakfast meetings I have worked before and I have seen a broad range of worlds and group interests. An OSHA certification group a while back presented a power-point on active shooter situations. It was terrifying and changed the way I look at walking into and working in a public place. Another monthly group of millionaires had a local puppeteer as a speaker--each time I walked in the room he seemed to show a new and hyper- unaware level of bigotry and misogyny using puppets--Charlie Parker puppet was not only a famous jazz musician but also a heroin addict and enjoyed the company of puppet prostitutes. The puppeteer actually had a prostitute puppet. I just shook my head as the rather reserved group of men [kind of] laughed under their breath with a low rumble. The majority of breakfast groups are men but my best group had to be a group of Doulas [mid-wives], a refreshing change from all the testosterone that would clog up the energy of the room. And yes, there was a different energy in the room, a softness, full of women that help guide the newest of the human race into the world. It was calm and quiet with a faint hint of herbs.
So who knows what I'm going to get from this room. I couldn't read it.
Next up after the reading of minutes were general comments and updates from members. It began with the elders' updates on the health of members not present--knee replacements, cancer, dementia, the usual end of life updates. Then an elder member from the local catholic church on someone's wife and her death. Up to this moment I felt no female presence or influence in this group with the exception of the off-hand comment about "the wife". Normally in situations like this I feel completely comfortable and in control--meeting the needs of the men, watching the surprise on their faces when I speak intelligently on a wide range of subjects, my confidence, my quips when needed--which could be attributed to bartending and working with only men in my previous life. So I took notice when the younger "bro's" started to chime in. These are the guys you knew in high school and maybe college--the jocks but not really good jocks--the ones that went for the shallow, tits and ass and hair girls, the ones that thought the best thing about sport were the antics in the locker room that included towel snapping and duct tape. The ones that prey on the weak and vulnerable. And not that cute. [I can be shallow too] An announcement of a scotch and cigar tasting He's a sommelier but for scotch and some bro responds so that means a drunk. Snickers all around the room. "Card night and drinks" literally the guy used air quotes, so whatever that means in fraternity of bros code. Acknowledgement to fellow members for helping each other out with insurance issues, a personal injury claim, even the handyman dude. Everyone needs a handyman. I'd like to hear some of the under-the-table problems they troubleshoot for each other. Then one guy at the front of the room begins a short soliloquy about his morning sitting on the shitter, looking at click porn on his phone, and how do those ads work to make you money? The whole room erupts in laughter. There is a short discussion which then turns into liabilities with employees and outsourcing and don't let them get too comfortable because that's when they feel comfortable enough to steal or wreck a business. An example of how two women in the Medicaid/Medicare office quit at 3pm on the day of a deadline. You can't trust women! is shouted from somewhere and the room reacts in agreement. I am behind the bar and notice one guy near me looking over to see my reaction [which is a smile, I sold out my own kind!] while the office guy is talking about how it was a blessing because they really didn't fit into his office culture and the office was better off with those two women gone. You just have to watch the types you're hiring. Then it occurred to me, looking around the room at a bunch of scared old white dudes and the younger generation of bros, they are talking about me and brown and black people, the ones they are forced to employ, we are the enemy and we are their ways to a means of acquiring stacks of money. But the catch is they need us. They are the ones that bitch about having to pay for insurance, and 401Ks and actually giving the people that work for them any benefit with the exception of the luck of getting the least amount of a wage provided.
But they need us. And they can't support the fact that we may be more educated [I've heard the term "overeducated" used when speaking of women in an office] than them but underemployed, we, the other, the not them, are taking over. And yes we do not fit into their white country club culture unless we are serving them. We don't want it. But we need them. I'm standing behind a bar serving them waiting for them to sign a card with my 20% service fee on it. My end to a means. The whole situation is myopic and toxic. I'm trying to work this out, to see and understand, but it's not right to be a club of douchebags celebrating douchbaggyness.
And now to the visual part of the essay.
Next up: Old white guy shows a video of his river excursions. No, I don't have the video.
From what I could understand, from the long introduction that I tuned in and out of, this guy will take a group of club-bros out for a day on the river. 3 or 4 boats. Booze. No fishing gear. Machetes, baseball bats, and guns. Somehow the fish just jump in the boat. [I must have missed part of the presentation here...] The challenge is to skeet shoot a fish or hit a homerun with it, and it explodes or flies back into the river. So the captain of the boat is shown on video throwing a live fish in the air and this bro with a ski mask on--b/c you don't want this to go out viral if your a CEO--swings and hits the fish that then goes with a flop back into the river. This made me sick and sad at the same time. I'm no vegetarian, but for gods sake this is just violence for sport. It's a waste. It makes me sad that these "men" have no respect for wildlife and enjoy this kind of destruction. It's power over the weakest and dumbest. Power over the innocent. The spoils of war. The group is laughing and applauding every time there is a hit. One more time, rewind, go back, go back, oh! he got it! The presentation is over. There is a raffle for the $26 collected. The personal injury attorney wins. The meeting is called to a close by the host exclaiming we need a flag. Looking out the north window someone spies a flag flying at the bank. The group turns and they recite, with hands on their hearts, the pledge of allegiance.
I've seen a lot meetings. Most end with a prayer or blessing, or just end. This one just caught me by surprise not because of the pledge but the atmosphere in which the pledge was recited--the worship of capitalism, money, power. I felt small and dirty. I felt invisible. The room did not smell like herbs it smelled musty, the underside of a belly, it smelled like balls in there. It smelled like balls. The host thanked me after everyone left, he argued on the number of guests, like I couldn't count and I agreed to meet him in the middle, breakfast buffet for 50 soon-to-be-
obsolete white bros that perpetuate the bigotry and misogyny of their class in their insignificant group. Go back to the country club. I won't wait on you again.