Thursday, January 31, 2008

BLOGOSPHERE MEETS REAL WORLD

Eleanor Cass, blogger C Major Momma (CMM for short), lived just outside Gladstone City, and started the whole thing once she found out Candice Pace, blogger High-steppin‘, was coming there for a family reunion. It didn’t take long for both of them to begin working on Jillian Carmichael, blogger Homogenized Fodder, since Eleanor knew she only lived about twenty-five miles from Gladstone. And although they put the word out for others to join in the fun, only Pat McFadden, blogger Belle Pepper, had signed on for meeting with the other three in “real life”.

All of them had known each other from their blog entries for over two years. Eleanor had actually begun on a Yahoo group called “Kitchen Table Writers” with Jillian some five years ago. That’s how she knew they lived fairly close. Yet in all those years, she had never been able to persuade Jillian to meet with her. Jillian’s writing was brilliant, and she had acquired a real following on her blog site.

Finally Eleanor was going to get to meet her. They would share a leisurely lunch exchanging thoughts and playful banter. It would be the high-light of the luncheon for Eleanor. Well worth all the effort she’d put into this gathering.

So now, after a fair amount of emailing, nailing down all the particulars, all four of the gals were going to meet at Langley’s Garden of Eaten. It was located on Gladstone’s main street, and afforded a great view of Gladstone Lake. If the weather hadn’t been so iffy, they might have been able to eat outdoors on the patio over-looking the marina. Eleanor decided not to risk it. But the view would be great and the food out-of-this-world. She felt she’d picked a winning spot for their luncheon.

Although they had agreed to an informal lunch, Eleanor couldn’t resist making table decorations replete with place cards with each blogger’s name and their identifying blog site logo/picture. As she prepared these, she realized she was the only person who had her picture posted. She thought that a bit strange, that none of them would know each other, but they’d all know her on sight. No matter, at least they’d find her when they came into the restaurant. And because none of them had seen the others, she also made name tags with both blog name and real name. At least until they got to know one another, no one would be embarrassed not remembering their real names.

Eleanor arrived early and a very pleasant young waiter who introduced himself as Jazz Wilson, helped her set up the table right next to the central large picture window. It had a completely unobstructed view of the lake. She really thought she had only a little to do to set up, but it required three trips to the car. She was grateful Jazz insisted on accompanying her on the second and third trip.

She and Jazz worked around the table, arranging the decorations, place cards, and name tags, along with her center piece--a globe of the world with a sign going around the “equator” saying “Blogosphere”. There were pink fluorescent-headed pins stuck in each of the four cities the girls lived in, and bright pink thread from the pins to a pin stuck in Gladstone City. Eleanor and Jazz stepped back and took in the view to its full advantage. Both nodded and sighed in joint agreement it was “perfect”.

It seemed like forever, but in under ten minutes a smiling Jazz approached the table escorting a woman of undetermined age. She was dressed in a floor-length sky-blue sequined evening gown, hair rolled in a French twist anchored in with a diamond encrusted hair comb that matched her high-heeled diamond encrusted pumps. At first Eleanor thought this person had a daughter who had “bedazzled” her mother’s attire. Either that or this person had gotten lost after a late night at the Holiday Inn’s Lounge.

Batting her overly long black eyelashes (quite expertly glued to her overly blue eye shadowed lids), and extending her gloved hand to Eleanor, “I’m Candice Pace, and you MUST be our darling hostess, ‘C Major Momma’. I’d know you anywhere from your picture Eleanor”. This was all said in fairly breathy, gushing exuberance, with the final affect leaving Eleanor wobbling as she stood to accept the out-stretched gloved hand. She wasn’t sure whether she was to shake it or curtsy and kiss it. Fortunately Jazz seemed to have the matter well in-hand, and pulled out Candice’s chair and continued with some small banter while Eleanor sat back down and collected herself.

It was a blessing that Candice, who assured Eleanor she was just “one of the girls” and insisted she call her Candy, and not to stand on formalities, continued to gush on about her trip there. The accommodations she managed to acquire at great personal expense, but with amenities she felt were wholly inadequate, she believed must be for the summer trade that a tourist attraction such as the fish-smelling lake would certainly draw.

Eleanor was trying to scan her brain for what bits must have been there, written between the lines of High-steppin’s blog entries. Wouldn’t there have been signs. Surely in two years something of these traits would have surfaced, wouldn’t they? She barely had gotten her mind around all of this, when she saw the ever-smiling Jazz approaching with another woman in tow.

A very petite woman half standing behind Jazz, was wearing a yellow gingham blouse with a Peter Pan collar, tucked into tailored belted black pants showing off the tiniest waist Eleanor had seen since her daughter was ten. Only because of her salt and pepper hair and a few drawn lines around her eyes, did she guess the woman to be in her early to mid-fifties. Of course, it was hard to tell much about her face because her black-rimmed glasses were the size of Detroit. They looked like they must weigh a ton, stuck out on either side of the thin and drawn face, and because the woman kept looking down at her feet, they had to be continually pushed back up on her slender nose.

In a barely audible voice, the tiny woman said, “Hello, I’m Jillian Carmichael.”

Before Eleanor could stand to greet her, Candy had extended her gloved hand and gushed in her throaty night-club voice, “Oh my, our darling Homogenized Fodder. What is a sweet bitty thing like you doing with such a heavy blog handle? Why my dear, you write absolute poetry. Why I’ve gained IQ points just reading your posts, truly I have.”

With Eleanor still trying to gain her feet, Jazz swiftly pulled out Jillian’s chair, helped her push it back in, and then tried to assist Eleanor who’s chair leg had stuck to the carpet. She finally decided his best help would be pushing her chair back up to the table. As she tried meeting Jillian’s eyes, a full throttle booming baritone voice brought her gaze back up just in time to see the arrival of her last guest.

“Oh my girls, it has been SUCH a trip. And here you all are! I’m misty, truly I am, just misty.”

For once Jazz was frozen in place. There standing next to the table was a six foot two inch Dolly Parton look alike. And out from under the ten pounds of blond-wigged curls came this husky deep voice sounding as if it was coming from an underground train tunnel.

“Oh my, to think we’re all together. Belle Pepper, or as you now know, Pat McFadden here. When I told my associates at Madden, Gladden and McFadden I was just going to drop all my court cases and come here to meet all of you, WELLLL you can imagine they thought I was hormonal. But I was NOT going to let this opportunity pass me by. I mean, how often do you actually get to meet those you share your whole daily agenda with, but never meet in person--I mean REALLY? And now we’re here, I’m getting all choked up again.”

At this announcement, Jazz had finally recovered enough to pull out the chair for Pat, and with some effort, helped push it back in again. Eleanor noted that this turn of event had even silenced Ms Candy, if only momentarily. No one seemed to be able to say much as Pat dabbed his tears with a dainty lace-edged hanky.

“Oh, I hope you’re not uncomfortable with my being here? Am I over-dressed?”

To this all three women tried to offer assorted assurances that they were glad Pat had been able to join them. Nothing was said too articulately, but there was a general effort to say welcoming words.

“Oh thank you for the kind words. I just feel pretty in these. You know, Dolly is SO provocative, so effervescent. I mean, who wouldn’t want to be her?” All of this was said with ever widening gestures, showing more of Pat’s hairy arms, until Jillian’s water glass was bumped. But faithful Jazz was at hand, and captured the glass before it actually tipped over.

“May I take your orders now?”

Eleanor was glad Jazz spoke up, as there seemed to be a dark hole similar to the ones in space, and all sound that had tried to come out of her mouth had been swallowed up. Everyone took some minutes with heads buried in their menus, and then began offering Jazz their orders. For Eleanor, all too soon the orders were placed, and Jazz disappeared.

Evidently completely recovered from Pat’s arrival, Candy took over the conversation. Eleanor tried several times to catch Jillian’s eye, but she seemed to have her stare trained at her plate, or out the window at the lake. And finally, when Eleanor thought she was about to speak, Jillian excused herself and headed for the lady’s room.

The breathy gushing and the booming train tunnel voices continued on. Jillian had yet to return from the restroom, and Eleanor could hardly blame her.

With her gaze trained out at the lake, Eleanor was lost in thought. Who were these people? She read their blogs every day. She sent comments back and forth, emails off boards. Where were the signs that identified Miss Lounge Act 1966 and Miss Belle of the Balls? She snickered at that last thought and then reprimanded herself for her narrow-minded, and naughty remark--hum, maybe CMM wasn’t who she said she was either.

Jillian returned and slid into her spot so quietly Eleanor didn’t notice until Jazz showed up and began to distribute everyone’s salads. The conversation between Candy and Pat continued so seamlessly, Eleanor began to wonder how their salads were being eaten. Neither appeared to be chewing, just talking. And every once in a while, she thought she saw Jazz reach over and take a cucumber off of someone’s bowl, or a tomato, and eat it--but that couldn’t be right, could it? No, she was definitely out of her element and she was seeing things.

Between each part of the meal, as Jazz collected and delivered plates, refilled glasses, and still appeared to be gaining a partial meal of his own off their entrees, Jillian would disappear into the lady’s room. And each time, just as the next dish was being set out, there she’d be, sitting in her chair, head down, staring intently at her plate. Eleanor always seemed to see her go, but how the heck did she get back in her seat without detection?

And finally it happened. Jazz showed up with each person’s check neatly placed in a leather folder. As the bills were paid, credit card bills signed, Jazz seemed every where at once, pulling out chairs, handing little left-over baggies to Candy and Pat, and bowing to everyone. Eleanor noted where she could see the payments, Jazz was coming out well paid for his smiles and service--but then with this crew, and all he’d taken on from the beginning of the ordeal, she felt he could not possibly have been over-paid.

Eleanor attempted to say her goodbyes to each one. And each one stopped to get a hug, and express how wonderful and gracious Eleanor had been to organize the luncheon, what a guiding force she’d been, how the blogosphere would know about just how marvelous a soul C Major Momma was!

Jillian was the first one gone. Whether she was hiding out in the lady’s room, or had actually escaped to her car, Eleanor wasn’t sure, and wasn’t going to go see. Candice and Pat walked out together, arm in arm, exclaiming how IF they put their heads together, perhaps there would be something in this burg to hold their attention for the evening. And Jazz, ever present, dutifully gathered the remnants of the table decorations and helped Eleanor get them back out into her car.

Eleanor sat there waving one last goodbye to the still smiling Jazz, who then re-entered the restaurant leaving her alone in the parking lot. She tried to feel something. She tried to think what she could say in summation to the meeting. Her mind felt like she’d come from the dentist and it had been numbed with Novocain during the entire luncheon.

Inquiring minds would want to know. Come Monday, High-steppin’, Belle Pepper, and Homogenized Fodder would post their blogs. C Major Momma would post one too

Monday Morning in the Blogosphere:

Homogenized Fodder wrote:
“This past weekend proved to be one of those special and endearing life experiences for myself and three of our fellow bloggers, as we were treated to a luncheon arranged by our hard-working and gracious hostess C Major Momma.

“Even though the past two years have given all of us opportunities to exchange ideas and share each other’s creativity and thoughts, much of our friendship has been based on long distance--but now, thanks to our hostess, we have all gained an extraordinary opportunity to get to know our fellow bloggers in a richer and more in-depth context.

“I wish to thank our gracious hostess, C Major Momma, our effervescent Belle Pepper, and our eloquent High-steppin’ for making this matchless meeting. Just maybe CMM will offer to host again, and more of you will be able to come join in the merriment.”

High-steppin’ wrote:
“As many of my readers know this past weekend opened with a new opportunity for me. C Major Momma offered to host a luncheon for those of us who were going to be in the Gladstone area. I had my family reunion scheduled there at the lake this past weekend, so I was able to attend. I’ll write more about the family reunion in a later post.

“Right now I want to tell all of you just what a grand time our dear and faithful hostess, CMM gave all of us. Right down to the smallest detail, she was on top of her game. The table decorations were so very creative, and made each one of us feel welcome and special. And with her arrangements, she managed to get us a lakefront view that would give a photographer reason to pause--just breath-taking, my dear CMM, just breath-taking.

“And to finally have names and faces to go with each of my blogger friends--well, it just goes beyond words. Belle Pepper and I were able to spend some extra time together that evening, and, well, we were definitely “high-steppin’” it! A grander time I’ve not had in eons. Once again, thank you, CMM, and sending hugs to Homogenized Fodder and Belle Pepper as well. Maybe next time more of you will join us--oh CMM, let’s not let it go too long for another meeting!”

Belle Pepper wrote:
“I am still choked up every time I try to talk about this past weekend. People, you missed out on SUCH FUN! Our dear C Major Momma out did herself, really she did. We all were welcomed with out-stretched arms. The table setting was dazzling. I’ll keep my party favors in my Memory book--truly one of my cherished memories was made all the more special because of your thoughtfulness.

“Homogenized Fodder, my respect for you and your writing ability is all the more keen now that I’ve had this opportunity to spend such quality time with you. Each remark you made, well, just sterling!

“And our darling waiter, Jazz--I told you to click on in to my blog today, because I’ve not forgotten you. There wasn’t a detail you missed, and I know you and CMM made every effort to treat us all like princesses! Thank both of you from the bottom of my heart! We must do this again--and more of you need to join us for the fun!”

C Major Momma wrote:
“I cannot say enough to express my gratitude for all three of my blogger buddies’ gracious blogs today. It was a once in a lifetime event and I will never forget the impact it has had on me. Truly, I don’t think it could ever be duplicated. I am almost speechless as I try to say what it has meant to me. Thank all of you for participating.”

Eleanor finished reading the blogs and closed her laptop. She would never read another blog nor think of her fellow bloggers in quite the same way again.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Twas Brillig (my gifted muse for this writing) suggested these ideas:
STORY IDEA: A group (four or five people) of blogging friends get together for lunch one day to meet in person for the very first time.
CHARACTERS:
Blogging friend A: who is dressed up in very fancy clothes as though instead of going to lunch, she were going to a night club.
Blogging friend B: writes a fantastic blog, but is apparently so shy in person that she can’t even form a complete sentence, and spends most of the time staring at her plate or hiding in the restroom.
Character C: is a flirtatious, handsome 20-something waiter who returns to the table way more often than is required and seems to be sneaking samples of everyone’s food.
PLOT TWIST: One of the blogging friends turns out to be extremely different from how they had described themselves on their blog.
From her lead, I created this story.

12 comments:

Brillig said...

And you. rocked. this. Holy crap, this was fantastic!!! It was so fun to have a screwy little idea and see it turned into a masterpiece. And the blog names you came up with? Hilarious. I wonder if the URL's are available...

Thalia's Child said...

Awesome!!! You totally cracked me up with the Dolly Parton drag queen!

Jenn in Holland said...

Oh, WB, you are such a gifted storyteller! No one could do it with such brilliance as you!
Really, really funny. So, when is our reunion??

cablegirl said...

Well done! I particularly love the blog excerpts at the end.

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

Fantastic, WB!!! I loved this, and I think many of us have had those thoughts - just who ARE these people? So... when's our reunion? ;-)
I loved the different personalities and like CG, I loved the blog entries at the end. And yes, I bet CMM did NOT know what to say to those "gracious" blog entries!

Too funny!

anno said...

Fantastic! I love the very different characters of each of the bloggers. Must confess to special affection for the Dolly Parton drag queen! Very, very funny story!

Luisa Perkins said...

VERY funny, WB.

capitolady said...

Wow that was wonderful. I can just picture poor eleanor giving up on her blog!

Fantastic!

capitolady said...

Wow that was wonderful. I can just picture poor eleanor giving up on her blog!

Fantastic!

Darcy said...

Oh lw, what a grand and funny story! I've really missed reading your work. You have a way of always introducing the unexpected. I know I can always count on an entertaining tale when you are the author.

Anonymous said...

great post. I would love to follow you on twitter. By the way, did you know that some chinese hacker had hacked twitter yesterday again.

Anonymous said...

quite interesting post. I would love to follow you on twitter. By the way, did any one know that some chinese hacker had busted twitter yesterday again.