No, no, not that kind – not drugs or booze or any of that far-out wretched stuff. After all, we are talking about Winter Texans here.
We do have plenty of vices, though, and readily admit to some of our most down-and-dirty ones, such as bingo, shuffleboard and Dairy Queen.
No, I am talking about addiction – the most unrelenting addiction of them all, The Mother of All Addictions.
Winter Texans are Sign up Sheet junkies.
It’s true. We have some irrepressible urge to put our names on Sign up Sheets. Any sheets.
It doesn’t matter what we’re signing up for, or where, or when, the name must go on it.
Sometimes we will actually read the sheet first to see what we’re signing up for. But that’s the exception.
Most often we just wander into the rec hall and sign every new Sign up Sheet that’s there. And then we saunter off and an hour later never remember any of them.
Those Sign-Up Sheets have a stronger pull than the nickel slots in Las Vegas. If the mob could find a way to make a profit on those of us who sign up and then forget about it, they would be rolling in dough.
“Hey, are youse M. Stephenson?”
“You owe us $168. Pay up!”
“What? What are you talking about? Who are you?”
“Benny “Boney” Mulroney. I represent da mob. Our records show that you put your signature on 27 Sign Up Sheets last month and only showed up for six. That’s 21 no-shows at $8 each, which comes ta $168. Pay up!”
“Are you nuts? I’m not paying anything!”
“Okay, tough guy. We’ll see how tough ya really are when I send da boys over to break both of your shuffleboard sticks!”
“Hah! You think that scares me? We’ve got a shuffleboard shack full of them. Beat it, you crumb.”
“Oh yeah? You’ll sing a different tune when dey come back to break your personal hand-crafted solid mahogany pool cue!”
“No! No! All right, I’ll pay!”
“I tot so.”
Is this signing up some kind of prehistoric compulsion not to be left out of anything? Just got to be there! Whether we can make it or not!
Approaching those piles of Sign Up Sheets is like coming up to the finest smorgasbord in the world. Everything looks good. Have to try it all!
Cookout, exercise classes, bean bag, tour to San Antonio, tour to Mexico, golf, pizza outing, crafts, bowling, coffee and donuts, line dancing, painting. Yeeeee-haw! Sign, sign, sign! So what if everything is happening on the same day. We can do it all! Yes!
This leads to problems, of course. For instance, the Sign up Sheets for BBQ Cook-outs are always crammed to the hilt with signatures.
The volunteers bake enough potatoes for everyone on the lists, of course, and then there’s always enough left over to open a potato restaurant. That’s next door to the leftover-from-breakfast sausage restaurant.
Besides The Mob other groups are already beginning to cash in on this signature bonanza. In one of the parks, a local hospital placed a Sign up Sheet for kidney donations.
Just quietly slipped it in among the other sheets: pizza night, tour to Guadalajara, kidney donation, bowlarama, etc. Forty-seven Winter Texans signed up. However, a week later only nine showed up.
They were surprised to find the rear section of the rec hall converted into an operating room, with a doctor and two nurses waiting to remove one of their kidneys.
Some of them thought they had signed up for the pancake breakfast and arrived with utensils and coffee cups. Two thought it was a jam session, although they did believe it was odd to have a jam session so early in the morning.
So we have to be careful of those sheets. If you sign up for coffee and doughnuts, be suspicious if: 1. You smell ether instead of coffee.
2. They invite you to lie down.
3. Someone slips a mask over your face and says, “Please start counting backward from 100.” You probably should have read the sheet first.
Well, at least you showed up.
Michael Stephenson is a Winter Texan from Portage la Prairie, Manitoba.