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Any Club That Would Have Me For a Member

Groucho Marx infamously said, “I would not join any club that would have someone like me for a member,” and I get a feeling that when he joked about it, he had his pick of clubs to choose from.  I imagine, like Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert today, that people would have bent over backwards to get any of the Marx Brothers’ attention (even the lesser known Gummo).

I’ve always wanted to be a member of the National Zoo.  I’ll admit that part of the allure was that members were called Fonz (Friends of the National Zoo), and what Happy Days-loving girl with her Fonzie lunch box wouldn’t have wanted to be able to casually drop at school, “oh, yeah, I’m a Fonz.”

I’m sure my parents will deny this, but when I asked to become a Fonz, they wouldn’t buy me a membership.  Life went on and I barely thought about it, though I looked into the membership fee a few times in the last few years, musing that it really wasn’t worth it because the zoo is free.

I’ve been feeling very let down by one club that will have me for its member, feeling that it doesn’t have my best interests at heart.  And that’s a crushing blow; to place your heart into a community and have the response be that the community you trusted takes an enormous dump on that emotional organ.  It has made me curl up on the sofa and cry, and call my friends to rage about it to them more times than they probably care to count.

When I get into something, I get into something with my entire being.  With my entire body and soul and every other crevice of whatever makes me Melissa.  It is hard to join a place, allow it to enter every pore, and then remove yourself from it when you realize that it isn’t a healthy fit.

The twins and I had a free day and we decided to go to the zoo to visit the tree shrews and then go swimming.  The ChickieNob is very single-minded about tree shrews, shutting out all animals to spend the largest chunk of time watching the tree shrews jump from branch to branch.  If there was a job that involved simply watching tree shrews all day long, she would rock that career.

As we walked into the zoo, I told the kids that I had always wanted to be a member.  And damnit, I’m an adult and I was going to buy myself a membership. (Okay, I first called Josh and said, “honey, do you mind if I make myself a Fonz?”)  We went to the membership office and I filled out the paper work and all three of us stood there, grinning like idiots (only partially because the ChickieNob asked the man at the desk if the monthly magazine came with pictures of tree shrews).  I proudly carried around my temporary card and showed it to everyone I saw that day.

It has made me smile since.  I love that I chose it.  That I didn’t need to belong, but I wanted to belong.  That there was no external pressure nor internal pressure.  It was simply following my heart and taking a stand and saying, “I believe in this.  It’s a good place.  I want to be connected.”

It is easier, of course, to become a member than it ever is to walk away.  They are currently doing construction for a seal and sea lion sanctuary that will open in 2012, and I already told the twins that we would need to renew our membership for the next two years so we could be invited to whatever special programs they have connected to the new exhibit.

I wish every club was like the zoo.  I wish every club smiled as someone joined and said, “we’re so happy you’re here.”  And meant it.


1 a { 10.19.10 at 9:47 am }

I was going through my high school yearbooks last night, and realized that I have never been a joiner. I’m probably limiting myself socially, but I have never felt the urge to be in a club of any sort. Oh well, at least I’m consistent. It’s probably because I never think they mean it when they say “we’re so happy you’re here.”

Congratulations on becoming FONZ, finally.

2 Autism Mom Rising { 10.19.10 at 9:48 am }

I love that feeling of following through on something I wanted to do as a child. It is a feeling of coming full circle, isn’t it? I guess that’s why I’m such a New Ager. I was always facinated by the powers of the mind. As a child I literally promised myself that when I grew up I’d look into it more. Full circle.

I’m sorry to hear about the group. That must be hard, especially when you are one who goes into things heart and soul.

3 luna { 10.19.10 at 10:05 am }

of all the big animals that she loves in her books, baby J was most astounded by the meerkats. I think she was really into the gibbon swinging around in his trees, but she did not want to leave the meerkats.

congrats on joining.

4 Kristen { 10.19.10 at 10:16 am }

So sorry that a community you’ve dedicated yourself to isn’t treating you well. Like you, I commit myself completely to organizations and people and then am crushed when those assocations or relationships don’t work out the way I had hoped.

5 Battynurse { 10.19.10 at 11:07 am }

Hugs to you. I too wish that all the things we dedicated ourselves to could be always as welcoming and accepting as organizations that are glad to have you. Like the Zoo.

6 Jendeis { 10.19.10 at 11:12 am }

You’ve always been as cool as The Fonz to me. But does this mean that I have to put up with you saying “Ehhh” a lot? I guess it’s worth it if you can make electronics work by hitting them. Hmm…

7 It is what it is { 10.19.10 at 1:27 pm }

I’m just sending you a cyber hug to say that it is a pleasure knowing you and being a fan of yours. I empathize with the disappointment of being let down. It may sound crass, but sometimes people suck. Plain and simple. Usually though, there is a silver lining, even if you don’t see it now.

Here’s hoping for sunnier days ahead spent at the zoo.

8 Shelli { 10.19.10 at 2:13 pm }


My best Fonz impression.

I’ve had a similar awakening in a club, at work, no less, where everything is dependent on what “club” you are in, and how willing you are to sell your soul to the devil for a title and a pay raise… but I digress….

I just purchased my own zoo membership, not long ago, for my local city zoo in Philly. I feel giddy opening my member e-mails and postal mail.

It evens out the days I am sad from the clubs that I don’t belong to, not invited to belong to, or belong to and probably shouldn’t.

Hang in there, my friend. Spend a lot of time at the zoo.

9 HereWeGoAJen { 10.19.10 at 3:07 pm }

Aw, I am glad you joined the zoo. I think you will fit in well there. 😉

10 Dora { 10.19.10 at 4:54 pm }

Yo, Fonzie! Terrific! Sorry about the other community. I’m guessing this has something to do with a comment you wrote on someone else’s blog. So sorry, that sucks.

11 Rebecca { 10.19.10 at 4:59 pm }

Yay on becoming a FONZ!

So sorry about the other community…hope you are ok.

12 Kristin { 10.19.10 at 8:36 pm }

You know, the one community that none of use would have chosen to be a part of has been one of the most wonderful to be a part of – the ALI community. Y’all have supported me (and others) through some pretty crappy times. Y’all have been incredible cheerleaders. I wouldn’t wish membership on anyone but I am very, very glad you are here because you’ve made it so much better for all of us.

{{{Hugs}}} and I’m sorry that group (whomever they are) is letting you down.

13 MommyinWaiting { 10.20.10 at 7:43 am }

I really feel as though the infertility ‘club’ welcomed me like that. Not saying it was happy I was there, but making me feel warm and welcome and fuzzy inside. And you help to make this ‘club’ continue to be an amazing support.

14 Eve { 10.20.10 at 9:42 am }

Mel, you have such an untarnsihed ernestness that should make any club giddy that you might consider joining. I’m sorry that you are feeling hurt. Many people do not have the grace and empathy that you are able to wrestle down.

I, for one, know I don’t.

And yet I have benefitted so much from your work in this community. I am so very grateful for your love and passion and welcoming. You and the ALI community have concretely made my life better these past few years.

Piss on a club that rejects you.

And, thank goodness, there are still ladies out there who remember ‘The Fonze’…I fear I am becoming obscure.

15 Tara { 10.20.10 at 9:56 am }

So true…glad you got the smiles from the zoo!!

16 Kir { 10.20.10 at 4:03 pm }

whoever is not treating you with all the love and respect I know you are giving them, is not worth you…

and if you find a job where I can sit and watch Giraffes all day, I am SO THERE. 🙂

glad you’re part of my life and “club” xo

17 aisha { 10.20.10 at 10:55 pm }

Hope you’re not talking about the IF community because I dont know what we’d do without you- I hope no one is being mean or hurtful on this end of the blogsophere

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