Secret clubs generate . . . secrets. I had an uncle who lived in San Francisco and belonged to a well-publicized secret club—add that to your oxymoronic list—Bohemian Grove. If you Google Bohemian Grove, you’ll discover its links to the Trilateral Commission, the Illuminati, the Knights Templar and various other conspiracy-producing bogeymen. Members reportedly engage in blood sacrifice, oaths of fealty to the devil and drinking white wine with beef.
This particular uncle was a larcenous scoundrel, but I don’t think that’s the primary reason he was tapped for selection to the Grove. He was very rich, Harvard-educated and married into a California family of means—these things likely played a greater part in his selection than his willingness to run a flimflam game on his relatives and leave them with worthless promissory notes in the place of their life savings. He was a robber baron of his own flesh and blood, but he was also a member of Bohemian Grove, and therefore knew secrets.
Likewise, I’ve known Masons, with their penchant for making the mundane mysterious, turning membership into a series of arcane handshakes, nods, winks and other secret signs. I’ve never been formally asked to join the Masons. In fact, I don’t have a clue what that tap might look like, although I’m sure it involves some secrets. Still, when I’ve been with a group of Masons, their in-jokes make it clear they feel pretty damned special, and I can’t blame them for that. While I can pile rock upon rock in the desert to make a memorial cairn for a dead friend, I could never use mortar to actually make a chimney, wall or floor the way a mason can.
I do belong to one secret club, but I can’t name it or tell you about it. Even if you were to send a check made out to Cash for $1,500 to PO Box 446, Pittsburg, NH 03592, I couldn’t give away all the secrets. Even if you were to buy me a week-long trip to Israel, all expenses paid, I couldn’t reveal everything.
Since you’ve read the above paragraph, and are continuing to read, I assume we’ve got a binding contract. You will now pay me one-thousand-five-hundred dollars and fly me to Israel, and in return I will not give you all the secrets of my secret club. For your generosity, though I will reveal exactly 10 (ten) (X) secrets. Please do not read on until your check has cleared.
Really. Stop reading. Don’t look at another word if that money hasn’t been deducted from your account. And you’ve bought me my Israel vacation.
Welcome back. Now that our finances are in order, I will continue with the Ten Secrets.
1. Keith’s Secret Club is named Keith’s Secret Club.
2. Liverwurst is the sacramental lunchmeat of Keith’s Secret Club. On light rye. With caraway seeds. And raw onions. And Gulden’s Spicy Brown mustard.
3. Diet Coke with freshly-squeezed lemon juice is the sacramental drink of Keith’s Secret Club.
4. Wise Potato Chips are not sacramental, but they are a nice accompaniment.
5. Membership is secret. If a member is asked about his or her membership in Keith’s Secret Club, the proper response is, “What the hell are you talking about?” This occasionally leads to confusion, as the Keith in Keith’s Secret Club often draws this response in conversation.
6. Tarot cards are not to be used as bookmarks!
7. No member of Keith’s Secret Club is allowed to eat lizards, unless those lizards are also members of Keith’s Secret Club.
8. Keith’s Secret Club is for life! Dead members will be expelled with great force and insults.
9. Members must keep their beards and toenails well-trimmed.
10. Members may only drink coffee from cups without handles, unless those cups have pictures of adorable kittens or the 1968 Red Sox.
For another $1,500 and an all-expenses-paid trip to Madagascar, I will reveal another 10 secrets and send you a t-shirt from my trip to Israel.