Wednesday, December 2, 2015

The Goddard Recreational Tunneling Club

I am writing this blog entry because of a recommendation at the Beltway Bob Happy Hour on Friday, November 27, 2015. I mentioned I had given a talk to IFC Toastmasters on how I started the Goddard Recreational Tunneling Club and helped it grow.

In August 1991 I had been employed at Goddard Space Flight Center's Supercomputer Center for a year and a half. While there I made a quite a few friends at the supercomputer center and elsewhere -- think the Goddard Running Club and the Goddard Music and Drama Club. The latter group puts on various theatrical productions every year.

People also got to know I had many friends who were, in some ways, different from the average American. Most people enjoyed hearing about them.

Late one Friday afternoon in August 1991 I got to talking to Don and Charlie about the few people I knew who had the rather unusual hobby of recreational tunneling. Don, Charlie and I were all runners who worked at the supercomputer center. I would also describe them as bright guys with good senses of humor. Don's wife Wendy was busy that evening with daughter. Don, Charlie and I went out to a local restaurant and had a friendly dinner. During that dinner we formed the Goddard Recreational Tunneling Club. No, we never did any tunneling. But when someone said "It's time for a tunneling club meeting!" our bunch would head out for drinks and a dinner. All of us really enjoyed those dinners.

Our first single woman member was Lynn. She also worked at the supercomputer center. She was also a bit of a runner. We welcomed her -- as we did anyone -- into our group. Then came Friday, May 1, 1992. Lynn told us she would not be coming to our dinner that evening because she had a date with a guy. Now imagine a group of geeky guys sitting around a table talking about life in general and Lynn and her skipping our dinner. It is May First -- known to some people as May Day. Choosing some woman to be Queen of the May has been going on for some time. Think centuries. That evening we elected Lynn Queen of the May. Monday morning Don, Charlie and I showed up at the door of her office. I was carrying a tiara made out of tin foil. We told Lynn the news about us electing her Queen of the May. I gave her the tiara. What was her reaction? She simply said -- possibly somewhat irritated -- "You did what?!"

After that the rest of us stopped paying attention to our electing Lynn Queen of the May. We continued our dinners and our friendly interactions at work.

The following March Lynn brought up the topic again with the somewhat irritated statement "I'm tired of being Queen of the May!" We looked around the table and saw Matt wasn't there. So we elected Matt Queen of the May.

Queen of the May elections became a tradition. Another single woman who joined our group was Andrea. She was a bright, beautiful blonde runner we worked with at the Goddard supercomputer center. She actually began campaigning to become Queen of the May. Yes, we eventually elected her Queen of the May. Oh -- she was the only person who ever campaigned for the position. That year we also elected Dennis, another computer geek at the Goddard supercomputer center, Co Queen of the May. Andrea was a bit irritated at that decision. She was a good person, though, as were all of the people in our group.

Don's wife Wendy helped grow the group. She was a geek working in downtown DC. We started inviting her. She started inviting her friends from work. We welcomed them as well. That's how we went from being the Goddard Recreational Tunneling Club to the Greater Metropolitan Washington Nude Recreational Tunneling Club. Nude? Well, I suspect some of our married couples did see each other nude at times.

One evening Lynn brought some poetry she had written. We were not narrow people. That evening we also became The Occasional Sentence Diagramming Society.

Then one evening as we were leaving Charlie stacked some plates, saucers, cups, glasses, etc., on top of each other. That's how we became the Oblate in Abstentia Chapter of the World Society for Putting Things on Top of Other Things.

Now you know how I became the Revered Founder and President of the Greater Metropolitan Washington Nude Recreational Tunneling Club and Occasional Sentence Diagramming Society, The Oblate in Abstentia Chapter of the World Society for Putting Things on Top of Other Things.

Good things came about because of our group.

Don, Charlie and I became the corps of the Goddard Supercomputer Center running team which competed in the races organized by the Goddard Running Club. We also got into running in races far from Goddard. I seem to remember one race in Rockville, Maryland as well as others. I even got Don to run a few times with the Hash House Harriers.

Friendships grew and lasted. I even participated in group activities after I was forced out of Goddard by really awful management. People also came to parties at my house -- think Metropolitan Washington Mensa, Washington Science Fiction Association and more. We also partied at other people's houses. I remember especially hanging out with Don and Wendy at their place.

Enough for now. Feel free to bring this up anywhere we meet.