Standup at the Chamber Breakfast

I can’t believe I’m writing about an event that happened more than a week ago and doing it from memory because I didn’t take any notes as I did not anticipate that it would take this long.

Larry and I arrived at the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce breakfast at about 7:15 a.m. and found most of the 600 people already in attendance. I’m not much for breakfast before 10 a.m. so I cranked another cup of coffee and nibbled on half a bagel as we visited with Larry’s uncle and the other folks at our table.

The event started late, a rarity when Chamber President Larry McHugh is in charge, but by 8 a.m. he announced that Coach Auriemma and Role Model of the Year Tina Charles were in the house. As the Husky music played, they walked right past me. He looked really short next to the six foot four inch Charles.

After the opening formalities and a brief business meeting, Geno took the stage and dissed everyone in sight. He said Tina Charles stalked him when he went to scout her at her high school. He refused to thank Larry McHugh – saying Coach Calhoun gets invited to the chamber breakfast every year but it took Teresa Opalacz, in her position as chairwoman of the board, to extend an invitation to him. He’d received the keys to the city of Middletown and asked, “Do you think with all those Italians there it’ll actually work?” He even cut down the event’s sponsor St. Francis Hospital. The president, who performed the introduction, mentioned that St. Francis performed more open heart surgery than bigger hospitals. Geno said that was because Connecticut was full of old people and stressed out people.

We were all thrilled when Tina Charles took over. Looking directly at Geno, she said, “Well, the first thing I have to do is raise the microphone.”

One of the terrific things that I picked up from this event: The UConn women who’ve played basketball have all graduated, many of them with honors. This in contrast to the NCAA champion men’s team, which is losing two scholarships for “academic under performance,” meaning that a good chunk of the team didn’t pass their courses. And I seem to remember that only about one-fifth graduate, not surprising with the lure of the NBA.

We had a busy weekend – as I mentioned on Facebook and Twitter, Larry was in the newspaper twice on Saturday and on all three network news shows on Monday in Memorial Day related events. And as I write this he’s taping a show for the local access cable channel, which we unfortunately won’t be able to see.

He spent Friday putting flags on graves up at the Veterans cemetery and participating at a dedication at the high school. Saturday he went to a fund raising breakfast. On Sunday he caught a break and we went to the celebration of Cypress Grill’s seventy-fifth anniversary. Lots of people have posted and written about it, so I won’t add any more.

Then Monday, he had a ceremony at the Vietnam memorial; the parade, which was partially washed out but covered well by the Middletown Eye, then a ceremony at the Veterans Cemetery, then a reception, then a wake.


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