Friday, July 27, 2007

High Society

In days of yore humans were hunters and gatherers. Now that we rely on the grocery store for the hunting, all we have left is gathering. So we gather. We associate, we counsel, we socialize. And that's how we got Associations, Councils, and Societies. duh.

Living in Washington DC really takes this to the next level. Every time I turn around there's some new "National Association for ..." moving into the office next door. The truly amazing thing about all of these Associations is their specificity. I continually find myself saying, "Can you believe there's an association for that? That's just weird!"

For example, if you would like to only talk to really really REALLY smart people then you should join the Mega Society - a group for people who can prove that they are 99.9999% smarter than the general population. No more will your discussions on the Hoyle-Narlikar Theory of Gravitation stumble into done-to-death references to Newton. That is like so 1965! If you're a member of the Mega Society you don't even have to bother to invite members of the One-in-a-Thousand group to join your discussion. One-in-a-Thousands are only 99.99% smarter than the general population. So the Mega Society is like Too Mega Smart for them.

The Mega Society is plainly 99.9999% elitist and .0001% ridiculous. And ridiculous things intrigue me. Since Associations are clearly a hotbed of silliness, I figure it's high time I knew more about them!

Flexing my Librarian muscle I decided to do a little research and see if I couldn't find the most preposterous Association name. (Using those hot muscles) I heaved the four large volumes of the Encyclopedia of Associations off the shelf and started browsing. I was looking to see how granular each section was likely to get. The short answer is "pretty damn granular". I could easily see why some things had associations. Hobbies, historical trusts, famous persons, those promoting work standards, and anything that might at some point need to be lobbied for I considered valid. But there were a few that seemed just too specific to garner more than a handful of members. And if your entire membership can be fed and watered on a six-pack and a bag of Oreos I don't think you really need an association. Do you? The entire research project made me wonder how much pull in society the following groups could possibly have.

  • National Frozen Pizza Institute (membership entirely constituted by frat boys, of course.)
  • Neckwear Association of America (note that this group deals specifically with ties. Not scarves or any other type of neckwear. Just ties.)
  • Underfashion Club (for you pervs out there that want to talk about underwear all the live long day)
  • Coalition for Non-Violent Food (its dangerous work, but someone's got to keep food from fighting.)
  • Be Somebody, Be Yourself Institute (membership: 1)
  • Parents Against Tired Truckers ('Bout time someone besides Smokey was against Truckers. Damn convoys.)
  • Clutterers Anonymous; Messies Anonymous (no word on if you can have dual membership in Clutterers AND Messies Anonymous. But if so, I hope they give you a complimentary trash can.)
  • Good Bears of the World (Sadly, this is about collecting Teddy Bears. I originally thought it was to help distinguish the Good Bears from the Evil Bears. A much needed service!)
  • National Remotivation Therapy Organization (I'm thinking of joining this one myself, they promise to help motivate you. You think they could get me to the gym?)
  • Butter Pat Patter Association (Must I point out that this group is not even dedicated to full sticks of butter? Butter pats, friends, butter pats.)
  • Cow Observers Worldwide (aptly acronymed as COW)
  • AAAA - American Association Against Acronyms (ok, this one is fake, but all the others are real I promise.)

And then I found The One. The Ultimate. The group that proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that if this is a legitimate organization then any gathering for any purpose, however farcical, can be legally codified and bylawed.

And so, it is to you, National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance, that I present the award for being my Most Favorite Ridiculous Association. You are the Yin to my Yang: I reject, and you accept. There is harmony in the world because you exist. And so, The Honor and (gratefully) The Fat is all yours.


liloat said...

Good v. evil bears! ha! You crack me up!

My favorite association is the association devoted to breeding canaries to sing classical music or some such nonsense -- heard a thing about them on NPR and just shook my head and asked, "who are these people!?!"

erin said...

i have always thought about associations as i drove down conn ave and passed the association for confectioners, or whatever it is. but that's not nearly as exciting as those that you found. i wonder if these associations actually have conventions and stuff? if they ever come to DC, i'm going.

erin said...

i have to add that the fat association has an OFFICIAL policy of "fat admirers." now there's a new job for you, g, you can be a policy writer for NAAFA.

Anonymous said...

I have to say, I came across this accidently while going research at my internship on associations for one of our databases and we're always cracking up at the hilarious associations!

This is what I googled: Be Somebody, Be Yourself Institute and your blog is the only result for it! haha.

Anyways, love your writing (but can't read the HP post yet, I'm only halfway through 5!)