OK, so have I ever written about the "Hunter's Banquet" (now, I guess called the "Sportsman's Banquet")? I don't think that I have. Which is weird, because the HB is one of the strangest things that is not really exactly a part of my life, but is something that sort of borders uncomfortably on my life. I forget about it most of the year. And then, suddenly, all the men in my family (with the exception of my youngest brother) are making plans to attend this event together and I am reminded again of the fact that this very weird thing is sort of part of my life experience. Let me explain:
For decades, my grandfather has been involved in a yearly event called the Hunter's Banquet. I have never attended this event (more on this in a moment), but here is my understanding of it: a bunch of church-goin' men who like to kill things for sport and have lifetime memberships to the NRA get together once a year for fellowship. They show off their recent taxidermy work, tell tall tales about fishing and hunting, win fishing/hunting related door prizes (everything from scopes, to knives, to gloves), and eat game. (And also bridge mix, which is sprinkled on the tables and is meant to represent--I kid you not--scat. Marvelous.)
The reason that I only have a shadowy idea of what happens at this event is that, for most of my youth, I was not invited because this was a men (and manchildren) only event. Now, it is true that I would not, at any point in my life, have been interested in attending this event. But the absolute exclusion based on my gender never really sat well with me. To make matters worse, I knew that there were women allowed to serve the men at the banquet, but this was the extent to which they were allowed to participate. Think I am exaggerating? Part of the event used to be that there was a bell that someone would ring every time a man mentioned anything about a female--be she a lady, or a doe. Um. Really.
At some point this started to change. I don't know that there are many women who go now, but my niece went this year and it sort of sounds like everyone enjoyed having her here. (How could they not. As any of you who have met her know, she's a damn charming person.) That said, I am sort of ashamed to admit that I harbour some negative feelings toward this event. It represents a lot of stuff that I really hate and that I don't have much of a sense of humor about. On the other hand, it isn't my deal. And I really only have to hear about it once a year, which amounts to nothing more than a mild irritation.