I’m constitutionally incapable of finding committee meetings interesting. I do my best to come to each meeting with a good attitude, but it doesn’t last very long.
The one thing I’m most prepared for is the “second” when the chair asks if there is a motion to adjourn. Before someone utters “so moved” I clear the air with “second” in the hope of ending the meeting before someone else comes up with something else to chat about.
More often than not I find myself in a reverie. In my last meeting, which was about nothing all that interesting (that sounds like an old line), I decided to open up a copy of Samuel Butler’s famous Analogy, which our library happened to be selling for a mere fifty cents. The discussion of the meeting wasn’t going anywhere, so I thought maybe a quiet browsing would be just the thing to do. The book, I observed, was published in 1809 in Boston, and I checked the street to see if I knew where it was, which I didn’t. But, it gave me a chance to remind myself of what Boston looked like, and then I got to thinking about what it looked like then — Boston Commons, no doubt, full of mud — and what folks were chatting about while drinking Sam Adams when they heard the arguments of Sam Butler. Reveries involve the mind’s wandering. I was wandering.
Books of those days had lots of introduction, with notices and dedications up the gazoo, but the nice thing about this falling-apart volume was that it had a short biography by someone I had never heard of. So, as a few of my colleagues got into a conversation about improving student evaluations (yawn, yawn), I started wandering through the biography, and I came across a perfectly splendid story about Butler.
Evidently he was a smart student with lots of promise, but they didn’t find a notable parish for him, so he ended up at a place called Stanhope (which sounded to me like something right out of John Bunyan, so I wondered what that kind of city name meant), and then a friend of his, determined to get Butler a better parish, had a conversation with Queen Caroline. Of course, I had no firm ideas about Caroline. But, Caroline expressed to Butler’s friend that she thought Butler was dead. His friend assured her Butler was not dead. But, she was not convinced — after all, maybe she was one of those Deists Butler was after and needed some more evidence to determine what to believe. So, she asked another bloke if Butler was dead, and he observed in a perfect piece of English humor: “He’s not dead, but he is buried.” Which made me laugh to myself, and I temporarily forgot that I was in a meeting. And that’s about as good as a meeting can get for me.
Come to think of it, it wasn’t such a bad meeting after all. I’ll have to read the minutes to see what happened.