Thursday, April 27, 2006

Rubber Chicken Week Safety Tip, or, The Theological Meaning of a Pain in the Neck

A public service announcement from Dean Dad:

If you’re at a huge public event, and the room is wider (left-to-right) than it is deep, and you’re going to spend most of the event sitting in a chair watching speakers at a podium in the middle, sit in the middle. If you can’t do that, sit in the back. But whatever you do, don’t sit in the front row way off to one side.

I forgot this rule last night, and my neck is paying for it. The Wife bravely came with me, and now we both have podium whiplash. Two hours of looking to your left, maintaining good posture and an upbeat and professional appearance, equals pain. I think it’s God’s way of saying “sit in the middle, dumbass.”

Neck pain can sometimes carry meaning. I remember in grad school, when I was about 25 and sharing an apartment with two other guys, coming into the living room one morning and detecting a smell I couldn’t identify. Turns out the one roomie had been out head-banging at a local metal club the night before, and had applied generous dollops of Ben-Gay that morning to ease the pain in his neck. I told him that if he needed Ben-Gay, it was time to stop head-banging. Years later, I stand by that rule.

(There’s also the dreaded circular table rule. For reasons I will never understand, many large public events occur in huge rooms dotted with circular tables, with a dais at the front. The poor attendees have to sit in circles, but all face forward. If you’re at the six o’clock position, all is well. If you’re at twelve o’clock, there’s no graceful way to both respect your tablemates and watch the dais. You’d think somebody would have figured this out by now. Since turnover at my college is so slow, most of us who attend these events have attended enough of them by now to know this rule. Serious jockeying goes on to get one of the better seats. It’s worse than trying to call ‘shotgun.’)

There’s no Ben-Gay in the house, and tonight I have a circular-table event. I call shotgun!