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Mystery Explained

Over many years I have been asked what S-L-I-M-E was all about, as mentioned in my newspaper columns. “What’s the mystery?” Herein I shall explain the salient features of the group, (it is a group) so there will be no mystery.

“Men” is not the key word. Women are welcome to join us as well, although the most popular and regular members are three dogs; Ginger, Elle, and the latest, Amai. I feel safe in divulging their names, but shall not venture beyond first names of the regulars who now meet mornings at the Mazama Store.

It behooves me to state that the attendadance is fluid, and those who appear can range in numbers from three to ten. But the nucleus, aside from this Bob include Jay, Liam, Kurt, Doug, Rudy, Randy, John, Mike, Gale, Don, Daryl, Larry and Larry. Bob Cram was a summer and part-winter regular but now he is in Seattle most of the time.

I will unabashadly take credit or brickbats for inventing the name. In this era everything has an acronym and “S-L-I-M-E” represents not icky crawly creatures, but acronymically, “Society of Lugubrious Indolent Mazama Entrepreneurs.” This fairly well overstates but still portrays the group.

Unlike Norman Rockwell paintings of a group of old guys all sitting at a long table over coffee discussing hog bellies, wheat futures or who is sleeping with whom, the S-L-I-M-E group discusses more important things. Religion, politics and gossip are unspokenly verboten.

The ages range from 30s to 80s and from this wealth of life experience come matters of great conversational import such as recipes, dogs, skiing, golf, bikes, cars, trucks, engines, transmissions, plowing snow, cutting hay and the like. We are all experts at something, or so we like to think, and if a question is asked there will be a chorus of answers, all different. And useless.

This can cause some confusing nonversations because during the course of Q and A, the original subject has long been forgotten and segued into a completely different realm. Amazing how a dog biscuit question can evolve into how best to deep fry a turkey which leads to whether a stone BBQ is better than a tin one.

S-L-I-M-E was pretty much established in the late 80s or early 90s when the old store was torn down and rebuilt by owner Jeff Sandine. He was the only true entreprenuer, having owned Ballard Computer in Seattle. The then-new store had a large covered area where we could sit in inclement weather. Jeff sold it to Jen and Scooter Rogers, Yuppifcation increased from Sandine’s original beginnings of the trend. Mike brought us a large overhead propane heater and now there was relative comfort for some on the coldest of days there at “The New Store.”

Half a decade or so ago, the store was bought and widened by Rick and Missy le Duc et fil. Where we had sat outside is now a diminished space in width and while there were benches, it is almost knee to knee sitting. This is now “The New Store,” the preceeding one became the “Old New Store” and the one it replaced became the “Old Old Store.”

Take a moment to imagine a long and narrow rectangle. Or, better, get a pencil and paper and draw one---I’ll wait. OK, now draw 2 lines diagonally from corner to corner on opposite sides. Then a line side to side both long and wide sides. One day sitting in my usual place at the end, I visualized the picture that manifested itself in the directions the conversations were going: Outgoing words were colliding with incomings from across the way in all directions, it was a total babble. THAT, friends, represents a morning with S-L-I-M-E.

I sit at the end of the table for two reasons. Because of my experience in survival training and making a fire in the wilderness, rain or snow, I am charged with starting the propane heater with a flick of my Bic. The second reason is that I am probably the only smoker between Lost River and Carlton, and must satisfy my evil habit 25 feet from the door. I measured the distance and it just makes it, provided I extend my arm an inch from the shoulder socket.

Anyone is welcome to sit in. Just realize that any topic may be brought to its knees with some smartass or possibly even funny remark by someone in the aggregation. It is easier in summer when we occupy several patio tables.

Women, as noted are welcome, and we even have irregular regulars like Claire, Boo, Nancy, Jane, Mary, Danica, Midge, Karan and the variety of female employees who pop out to chat. Curtis of Grist has intimated that if we danced with these ladies it would be called a S-L-I-M-E Ball.

That pretty much explains S-L-I-M-E. The coffee is good, the pastries are tasty. The dogs are more entertaining than their owners and love children. Unlike Las Vegas where “Everything that happens here stays here” as the slogan goes, at S-L-I-M-E we are the antithesis of that pronouncement.

Anything that happens here will be all over the valley by nightfall.


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