You know how you hear about 1920’s gangs who simply wouldn’t allow their members to “resign”? They instead treated drop-out wannabes to “a swim wit da fishes in a concrete suit.”!
Well, I am shocked to realize that I belong to a “gang” alot like that. Only difference is . . . “de’s guys” kill you with kindness!
Oh and they’re so clever. They have such an innocent-sounding name . . . the book club. If they would at least call themselves something more sinister, like “the book mongers ” or “the bloody pages”, it might give you a clue that this is a tough crowd who “don’t likes no quitters”!
But no, this gang is much more subtle than that. Let me explain.
As I remember it, there were four of us at lunch one day after our WW meeting about a year and a half ago. Because we had attended the same WW meeting for about a year before that, and had become part of a fluid group of from two to six “lunchers” after the meetings, we had certainly become friendly and more than acquaintances, but still not probably honest-to-goodness “friends” yet.
Anyway, during lunch (Do I hear you laughing? Wellll, it certainly doesn’t make sense to eat before being weighed!) Jane mentioned that she thought we ought to start a book club. The other three of us immediately liked the idea. So we all contacted friends we thought might be interested, and we came up with a group of about a dozen women. That patched-together group of friends-to-some and strangers-to-others became the book club.
So, we started having meetings once a month and it was really a great group of women. Predictably, a few dropped out after the first meeting or two, but that was so early that I don’t think they ever really felt like members — they knew right away that this just wasn’t for them. And several more joined in the following months, so the group stayed at about a dozen — a nice size.
But, even though I stuck it out for a year, I quickly realized that having a book to read each month was an awful lot like school, and I wasn’t crazy about that idea. So at the end of the first year I decided to drop out. And it was a tribute to how much I enjoyed the group of women themselves, rather than the books, that I had stuck it out that long.
So, okay — I quit. And they were very nice about it. End of story, right? Nope. This is when the “subtle persuasion” began.
They left me on the mailing list. So, I received all the “correspondence” about meetings and books. And I have to say my interest would be piqued occasionally by a book title or some comment one of the e-mails contained about a book.
And, not right away, but over the course of the six months since I (thought I had) dropped out, I have received e-mails from three or four different members. Just chatty little notes that always included a little nudge that they missed me at book club. And several stressed that you don’t actually have to read every book! That thought had occurred to me but somehow it felt like “cheating”, because, after all, wasn’t that why we were meeting? But, I gradually realized that the group’s attitude about that was very relaxed, and that they didn’t all feel like you were only a “legitimate” member if you read every book. Who knew!
So, I hope they meant what they said, because tonight I’m going back to “the book gang”.
And my reason for (re-)joining this time is different than when we originally started the club. I’m going back now, not because of the books we’ll read but because of the great women who make up the “gang”, who still gently made me feel like a part of the “gang” even when I was resisting.
So, “Book club may be the name but friendship is the game.” I’m in it for the friendships this time, and if I read an interesting book or two along the way, that’s just frosting on the cake!
On my death bed I’m pretty sure it’s friendships that may cross my mind, not the names of great books I’ve read.
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