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The Election

by Martin Green


     They’d gone around and around for the last half hour, thought Paul Lerner. Well, that was to be expected; it was a meeting of the New Yorker club officers, trying to decide on the program for their next meeting. Ben Weiss, the club’s vice-president, short but pugnacious, Paul always thought of him as a little Napoleon, as always wanted to try something new and different, like a bus trip to San Francisco to see “Fiddler on the Roof.” Jack Hennessy, the club’s treasurer, tall, thin and dry as a reed, pointed out the trouble involved in renting a bus, not to mention the expense. Myra Kupman, the club secretary, as always wanted to avoid conflict and keep everyone happy.

     “Let’s have a potluck,” she said. “We can have some music to liven it up, like Frankie singing ‘New York, New York.’ I have the CD.”

     “Not another potluck,” growled Ben. “We’ve already had, what, four or five this year.”

     “Only three,” responded Myra. “I’ll make my special brisket. There’ll be no expense to the club.” 

     Paul, who’d founded the club five years ago, when he and his wife Sally, had moved to the Northern California retirement community of Sunrise Oaks, had run out of ideas of his own; in fact, even trying to think of something gave him a headache. After another go-around, he said, “Okay, for this time we’ll have the potluck. The next meeting we’ll have the election of club officers. After that, we’ll see what we can come up with.”

     Ben Weiss started to object, but Paul, hit his kitchen table with the gavel the club had presented him two years ago and said, “Meeting adjourned.”

     Afterward, while Paul had a cup of tea in the living room with Sally, she said, “I heard, another potluck. Well, that shouldn’t be too bad. Maybe the club can go out someplace next time, not to San Francisco.”

     “Next time is the election.”

     “That’s right. Well, the next time after that.”

     “That’ll be someone else’s problem.”

     “Why do you say that?”

     “Because I’m not running for president again.”

     “What! You’re not serious.”

     “I’m serious. I just decided, during the meeting. Five years is enough.”

     “But then that horrible Ben Weiss will take over.”

     “He’s not that bad..”

     “Yes, he is. He’ll alienate everyone. Pretty soon there’ll be no club. They’ll all quit.”

     “So, maybe it’s time the club came to an end.”

     “You can’t mean that. We New Yorkers have to stick together. And you have to stay as president.”

     Paul put up his hands. “I’ve had enough arguing. Let me drink my tea.”

     Paul sat at a table in front of the clubhouse with the other officers of the New Yorkers club. This was the election meeting. The meeting the month before, the potluck, had gone off pretty well, he thought. The woman had brought lots of delicious food, and everyone in the club liked to eat. Many had also brought wine and this made for a convivial atmosphere. Myra’s Sinatra CD had played without mishap until just before the end, but by then he’d sung “New York, New York,” and the club members had sung along with him, with some of the women, maybe it was the wine, even dancing along with the music.

      The present meeting was serious business. Who’d get to run the club over the next year? The New Yorkers had 40 members, give or take a few who might or might not show up at any given time. Like most other clubs in Sunrise Oaks, as everyone had become older, it had become more difficult to get members to run for office. Paul had noticed that Ben Weiss had gone round the room at the last meeting, telling people he’d be running for president and asking for votes. Well, at least Weiss was willing to do some work.  

     Paul rapped on the table with his gavel. It took more than a few raps before the crowd quieted down; they weren’t New Yorkers for nothing. “Okay,” said Paul. “Time for nominations. We’ll start with club secretary.”  

     There was a long silence; being secretary meant taking notes at every meeting. It wasn’t an easy job. Finally Myra Kupman stood up and said she’d be happy to serve as secretary again. She was elected by acclamation. Next came club treasurer. Someone nominated Jack Hennessey. There was another nomination but Hennessee won by a 2-1 margin. It was hard to imagine anyone but him taking care of the club’s finances. Vice-president was next. Jack Abel, a relative newcomer who was an outgoing genial man, was elected to replace Ben Weiss.

     “All right,” said Paul. “Nominations for president.”

     Ben Weiss immediately stood up and said he wanted to nominate himself. One of his cronies, he had a few, seconded the nomination. Then Myra stood up and said, “I nominate our one and only president, Paul Lerner.” Several voices shouted out, “I second.”

     Paul rapped his gavel. “I’m sorry. I thought I’d made it clear. I’m not running again. And, as somebody said, if elected I won’t serve. Now, any more nominations?”

     Myra stood up again and said, “I nominate Sally Lerner.”  There were several seconds. What was going on here? Sally had never said anything about this. If she was president, he’d still be involved in all the club doings.   Paul looked over at the table where Sally was sitting. She had a big smile on her face. She waved and said, “I accept.”

     Paul’s heart sank, but there was nothing he could do. The vote was a formality, Sally in a landslide. Paul couldn’t wait until he got her home; he’d have a few choice things to say to her. He hadn’t been elected, but he knew that he would continue to serve. He couldn’t win.

 

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