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2004 RG Impressions
Walter Wakefield

Adventures of an RG Virgin

For more years than I can remember (some won't believe that!), I have been graciously invited to RGs. My Type A work ethic has always kept me busy six or seven days a week, going back to when I opened a store in 1973, so hearing of weekend fun always sounded like something I could "always do," but didn't. I don't want to imply that I'm an old fuddyduddy by being a workaholic -- I know how to take my relaxation; and, I give as much as I take, as that active crowd can attest.

At the never-missed Appetite For Discussion in Portsmouth August 22, I learned Lynn Pina had singlehandedly decided to create an RG for 2004 after many had felt it just couldn't feasibly happen for that year. I saw her iron will to make this experience happen for the Mensa Family (the capital F is not a mistake), no matter the cost to her. She and Sue Barnes entreated me to participate, so I saw this was really going to be something worthwhile; and, not to miss another opportunity, I agreed. Since I'm not known to break my word, this was a contract as strong as any could be. So, I dutifully sent off my money when the announcements were made, giving me a reason to relate to another dear Mensa Friend (again, the capital F is not a mistake), Registrar Deb Stone, who encouraged my participation.

I arrived at the 12th Floor of the magnificent venue in Manchester, NH, after trepidation for closing early and on a Friday (This was traumatic!). Right off, Deb Stone was there at the greeting desk, issued my artistic name tag and let me pick my "approach label" of green/yellow/red. Next I received my surprise "goody" shopping bag. I have seen these given out at Oscars and wondered if I had actually struck it rich with exotic jewels, clothing, essences... But no -- practical stuff only, to which much thought had gone aforehand I quickly found: a local map, a program for the RG, a sturdy cloth carry bag, a pretty decoration like you'd get in Hawaii, etc. Got my buffet and brunch tickets, too, and I was all set.

My longtime friends were there to greet me, and many new ones soon to be had. (Is this an emotional experience for others, too?) I found a closet for my greatcoat and doodads, more convenient than at home! Right away, I was tempted by the cooking of shrimp chowder, venison stew, endless treats and drinks of every kind imaginable (Jim Barnes: How did you learn to make coffee BETTER than Dunkin' and Starbucks?), all capably produced and provided by Sue and Jim Barnes, who worked from long-before-beginning to end to make this gatherin' nice for all these people, some 170+ I later learned!

There was no pressure to do anything, but there were temptations to join in conversations and fun activities all around. I never felt even one moment that I was in the wrong place. Old Friends and acquaintances from decades past appeared in my purview to catch up with; some, truly, in mystical and magical encounters that won't be forgotten. This went on until what I came to find was 1:45 a.m., which seemed like "just getting started." Tired? Not me! This was the common experience. I had to run errands and wanted to process a roll of film I made this evening, to bring back five sets the following day.

For Saturday, 21 February, the anticipated buffet time came; we met there in the special room set up for this, with lots of round (Mensa) tables just for us and a really good meal, for both the vegans and the carnivores.

Afterward, Auctioneer (man of MANY hats) Joe Zanca (he also ran the Mensa Boutique from his hotel room for us, where I found TOO many goodies to resist, going away with two bags full and a thinner wallet) took out a $5 U.S. currency note and said it was to be auctioned. The money was to go to Mensa scholarships. This was going to be a good thing. But how much would someone feasibly pay for $5? About $132, actually. Someone had apparently also donated some rare and unusual books, etc. (and an antique XXX video featuring John Holmes) at the last moment. They were sold, too, but the $5 bill generated the most capital gain. The video was a tough sell; in protecting buyers' the way, Eileen, was it a good flick? There was one rare book our own Claire Natola wanted to buy, an 1870s tome on the history of New Hampshire with a folding original hand-colored map. She bought it and immediately re-donated it for auctioning again! There was also a fun book sale in a room, and a silent auction of many desirable goodies, all of which ended up bringing in some $750 for the scholarships, and fun for all participants.

Some people liked the movie room, some found the games more than adequate, and all the kids seemed to be having at least as much fun in their activities as the more subdued parents. I found people everywhere I could talk to, to relate with, using good words and arcane language without having to carry around dictionaries.

Where did the time go? It got to be 3:30 a.m. Sunday morning, and we had our very own intrusion by three street punks who somehow got into our domain, where quick thinking intelligence soon subdued them to slink away from us in defeat. There was a whole lot more to this, but I can say that this "event" gave me my BEST opportunity to contribute to the weekend, to keep everyone safe. After good conversations in the wee hours with Richard Schwartz and John McGondel as Sentinels, my time came to shower and shave and get 1-1/2 hours sleep, only to be awakened by friendly sounds of activity renewed.

Continental breakfast had been set up; life was percolating as only we could wish it to every day, not just at this Shangri-La. Oh, it's Sunday morning! I had a date with Deb Stone and John Bauman for brunch, where we found round tables again, in the breakfast area of the Inn, enjoying a few hours of abundant food and quiet conversation. I got to meet fine people from not just New Hampshire, but from all over New England and further! The people had heard of, or been past participants in, our fine RG hospitality. I was Walter-come-lately, but now really felt part of the Family.

At 1:30 p.m. it was the scheduled last activity: a Special Business Meeting where I, as well as 16 others of our leadership, handled important matters at hand, including setting up Nominations for Officers, and getting the Scholarship Awards program lined up for this year's awardings. These are our good representatives who handle all the matters that come up. That done, the final cleanup was in motion, and leaving was 4:30 p.m.

I thought coming would be traumatic. No, it was leaving! Why can't we have these RG things once a month???

Walter S. Wakefield
(24-Year Member)

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