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Rough Draft: MUSH

[Still gone. I am in Geneva, trying to figure out whether the Swiss have their own language. We still have a few guest kits to post, along with more archival material with a Summer theme. I'm "on holiday" as they say over here in Europe, but will probably try a little blogging at some point, just to see if I remember how. Will have to start out by sticking to the known formula. In the meantime, a little late, here's my column from the Sunday magazine.]

When in Doubt, Turn to MUSH
Greetings, fellow Softies!

I'm honored to have been reelected for yet another term as chairman of the Events Committee of our wonderful organization, Meekly United for a Softer Humanity, Mid-Atlantic chapter. I promise you that I have no intention of declaring myself dictator for life! (Just a joke!) (Please let me know if you think I'm a little too frisky with the humor!)

Let me reiterate what I've said many times: MUSH is more than just a nurturing, womblike environment for people who are sensitive, vulnerable and so psychically fragile as to be shattered by a single harsh word. We're also role models. We are demonstrating to the entire world how to resolve conflict by avoiding it altogether. We show our fellow citizens how to overcome hatred and violence by pretending they don't exist. We refuse to tolerate arrogance, opinionatedness, passive-aggression, defensiveness or reluctance to discuss one's feelings. Remember that we have a new motto -- "Friction Free in Millennium Three" -- that replaces our previous motto, "The Meek Shall Inherit the Earth, If That's Okay With Everyone."

So, what's the agenda of the Events Committee? Let me outline our three priorities.

First, we should hold a series of meetings to discuss the possibility of changing the Listening Workshops from monthly to bimonthly. I don't want to force this issue. Your opinions matter. Our members have raved (too strong a word?) over these workshops, which emphasize the seven kinds of listening (full attention, half-listening, pretending to listen while nodding vigorously, tone and inflection interpretation, body-language analysis, emotional content mining, and hands-over-ears-with-eyes-closed-and-going nee-nee-nee-nee to block out the speaker).

Second, we should revisit the idea of workshops on whispering. Those of you who have been around a long time remember that we tried this about a decade ago, but the workshops were discontinued because the teacher was -- I think this is fair to say -- inaudible.

Third, we need to address, directly, or perhaps through subtle hints and euphemisms, the widely circulated allegation that the events chairman has on occasion behaved immoderately, that he lacks the discipline necessary to be a leader in the softness movement, and that, especially when under the influence, he is prone to -- I believe this is an exact quote -- "eruptions of extreme brazenness unbefitting a MUSH member." "Hurtful" would not adequately describe the pain this criticism is causing the events chairman. It is a dagger to his heart. We must talk.

Now then, a note about the auction: Everyone had an agreeable, even soothing experience. But there were a few words of concern about the gelatin feast. There were those who were upset by the inclusion of tapioca among the pudding offerings. Some perceived it as too chewy.

Given how much time we've devoted to discussing this issue, I am quite frankly surprised that we must once again grapple with our differences of opinion about gelatinous desserts. Tapioca is, admittedly, more textured than our usual fare. But that was my call. The buck stops with me. And if you don't like that decision, all I can say is: I'm sorry, and it'll never happen again.

Finally, there were some comments about my performance as auction emcee. It did not escape the observation of

several members that I had a few glasses of punch prior to taking the stage, and there was speculation that these beverages inspired my impromptu song, or perhaps "aria" is the right term, in honor of Mrs. Buttersworth, one of our most beloved and, forgive me if I'm being too forward here, entrancing, sensuous, luscious and intensely erotic members. A goddess, in short.

I readily concede that a more discreet emcee might have refrained from asking Mrs. Buttersworth to join him onstage for a dance. A more judicious approach to the night's entertainment would not have included so much sweaty, flesh-slapping, floor-shaking bodily contact and piglike grunting between the emcee and Mrs. Buttersworth. I will stipulate that the emcee should not have shouted such enigmatic declarations as, "Shake it, you gorgeous jiggly beast!" and, "Stomp me like a grape!"

So, to Mr. Buttersworth: I prostrate myself before you and beseech your forgiveness for my overzealous efforts to bring a little fun into your wife's drab existence.

To Mrs. Buttersworth: If our wild gyrations had caused you to fall on top of me I would have been crushed, and I would have loved that.

By Joel Achenbach  |  July 25, 2006; 10:15 AM ET
 
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