My motives weren't entirely pure. Having told the publisher of my novel that its intended audience is "Parrot Heads and other escapist boomers," I decided that maybe I shouldn't toss around the avian label so casually. Maybe I should see what this group is really about before I go trying to sell them a book.
This was no small step for me. I've never been much of a "joiner," mostly because I really, really hate meetings. For a time, my attitude meshed with my situation: When I did restaurant reviews, anonymity was essential, so not joining organizations was a good thing. Then, while I lived on North Caicos, there was nothing to join. It's a small place, so everyone knows you anyway.
Returning to Richmond changed all that. Without either forced anonymity or instant "celebrity" (meaning that my white face always stood out in the crowd), I was free to explore both civic and special-interest groups. So becoming a Parrot Head was not only possible, but also -- maybe -- a good career move.
OK, so what I learned might eventually sell a couple of books ... but it might also be expanding my view of my community.
Parrot Head clubs, while glued together by a common appreciation of a certain style of music, a certain laid-back attitude and a certain escapist dream, are also philanthropic organizations. Their events are either fund-raisers for local causes or just plain boosterism for those causes.
Here in Richmond, the club throws a weekend party in August called "Stars on the Water" to support Children's Hospital, the Alzheimer's Association and the Food Bank; collects donations at every meeting; and annually turns a swath of the Monument Avenue median into a cheering section for the 10K race. So here, in short, is how I've distilled PHCOR's purpose: Let's have fun and party, but let's make some money to help others while doing it.
How could I not like that?
What began as a calculated act, not far from the idea of joining the Chamber of Commerce because it's a good business move, has become something fun and enriching and personally worthwhile. I don't know these people well -- yet -- but I think it's the beginning of a beautiful friendship.