The Night of the Moose

Once upon a time (and I’m hesitant to use that as an introduction), Al Stewart — a wonderful man in his own right — sang about “The Year of the Cat.” Well, people of this fine, and sometimes littered with empty bottles of faded label soda, I’m here to tell you about “The Night of the Moose.” That’s correct; I speak not of an event which lasted for the better part of four hundred days, but rather an event which lasted a single, solitary night.

Now, I do not remember the date exactly, although with what transpired, I’m thinking that it was likely Friday the thirteenth. I was in, of all places, a Moose Lodge, surrounded by people of many nationalities — from Very Old to Very Fat. I was listening to an out of place lounge singer, who had just finished a Neil Diamond song I had never heard in my life, as he asked the crowd, “Do you guys like Neil Diamond?” This was immediately followed by another unheard Neil Diamond song and the inevitable follow-up question, “Do you guys like Neil Diamond?”

Now mind you, I’m not a religious person — in fact, I was always under the impression that Bible School was where they taught books how to be better Christians. But, as the nine o’clock hour came, I was praying to God, or at least a god — I don’t know, Lou Reed perhaps, go get me the hell out of there. The reason for my grievance toward this event lay primarily in my ignorance for what a Moose Lodge had to offer. I was figuring people from the Nation of Very Old wearing ceremonial fezzes, or at least some sort of antlers — not some cult that plays host to out of place lounge singers and unheard of Neil Diamond songs. Now, when I say cult, I mean it in the least disheartening and most “Don’t attack me” kind of way. I’m not talking David Koresh, but I am talking a building with alcohol, a basketball hoop, and oh yeah, the nine o’clock ritualistic prayer.

I was with my fantastic lady friend when the clock turned time against me. A voice came over the public address system, “Please rise.”

Oh, all right, the National Anthem, I thought, springing to my feet. It then occurred to me that the National Anthem would be out of place. My thoughts soon became, What in the hell is going on?

“It is now nine o’clock,” the voice continued, “the time for all little children to be in bed.”

But there are little children running around the room, I thought as the representatives of the Nation of Very Young were doing their best to represent their country like those rowdy folks from Burkina Faso in a mini United Nations meeting. We found ourselves wheeled around to a picture of a child praying next to a teddy bear as a chime sounded nine times, replacing the unseen voice. A woman from the Nation of Dumpy Broads grabbed onto my girlfriend and said, “Just do what we do.” My girlfriend buried her head into my shoulder and I was uncertain whether she was crying or laughing as the voice asked us to repeat the invocation which was about to be presented (I think the fact that everyone repeated the words in a monotone was a member’s only, implied sort of thing — kind of like those pats of butter between two pieces of waxed up cardstock).

“Suffer the children to come unto me,” it began. It continued for another moment and concluded with “God bless Mooseheart. Amen.”

Then, like the end of a Rod Stewart concert, everyone went back along their way, as if the whole thing had never happened. The representatives of the Nation of Very Young who were blatantly disobeying the voice about being in bed danced heartily as the lounge singer got back on stage with an unforeseen welcome of, “Do you guys like Neil Diamond?”

“I think we’re going to hell,” my girlfriend assured me as I struggle to comprehend what I had just seen. The whole event made The Crying Game seem like a worthwhile venture. The Moose Lodge’s mini U.N., with the Nations of Decrepit Sarcastic and Overly Dull heartily represented enjoyed the music as the night progressed. I was just there to hear some friends play rock music.

We left after the lounge singer began another round of music with the theme song for the upcoming apocalypse, My Heart Will Go On; and as I stopped in the bathroom, I clearly heard him whisper the word near in the line “Near, far…” and I couldn't help but think, God Bless Mooseheart.

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