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HUCKABY: A club I'm proud to be in

I've never been much of a joiner. I joined the Boy Scouts of America when I was 8 and the Methodist Church when I was 12. That's about it -- unless the PTA counts. Surely I have a PTA membership card stashed away in a desk drawer somewhere.

They sent me a membership card for the AARP when I turned 50. I filled out the form and sent it in, just to see who all they would sell my information to. I never sent them a payment but I get an awful lot of mail addressed to Brother Darrell Lee Huckaby, Esq.

Thursday afternoon I joined another club. The FOFC -- Fat Old Fools' Club. Actually, the founder calls it something else, but I wasn't sure I could write "old farts" in a family newspaper.

I was recruited into the organization while walking on the East Beach on St. Simon's Island. I was in town for a family reunion, held in conjunction with the annual humility seminar held on the banks on the St. Johns River every October and ran across the club headquarters, housed under a red tent near the King and Prince.

The president of the club happens to be an old friend of mine. He shall remain nameless, but he is a graduate of Clark Central High School and fellow educator. Like me, he used to coach girls' basketball but several years ago he went over to the dark side and is now an administrator.

The qualifications for membership in the FOFC are pretty simple. You have to be old -- see above reference. I'm practically 60, so I qualify. You have to be fat, obviously. 200 pounds is the minimum. They pretended to believe me when I claimed to weigh less, but only because I've been sick and they were feeling sorry for me. None of the other men under the canvas needed such a dispensation, trust me.

The other qualifications are that you have to have seen at least 200 Georgia football games. We're talking in the stadium, not on television. You also have to have been to at least five bowl games and to have actually seen Georgia beat Florida in Jacksonville.

I qualified on every level and asked them to put me down for a lifetime membership.

What, you might ask, does one do when one becomes a member of the FOFC? I'm glad you asked. Basically, as far as I can tell, you sit in the sun -- or the shade, if you prefer -- and enjoy cold beverages while watching people and swapping stories. Any degree of truth in said stories appears to be purely optional.

Let the record state that the inaugural meeting was a rousing success. We attracted new members from near and far -- Athens, Conyers, Porterdale -- and even the northern extremities of Gwinnett County.

The people-watching was extraordinary. Georgia Bulldog fans come in all shapes and sizes. And ages. One octogenarian attempted to join our happy group. We were relieved that he only weighed 78 pounds and thus didn't qualify. We didn't mind that he was in his 80s, but the Speedo he wore beneath his tank top gave us pause.

Honesty compels me to admit that I tried to avoid watching some of the more appealing people on the beach (it was 84 degrees, by the way), because the president's wife and teen-aged daughter were in attendance. I didn't mind them knowing that I was a fat old fool but I didn't want them thinking I was a dirty old man.

But the stories! The stories were quite grand and got taller and taller with each telling. Of course, stuff got deeper and deeper, too -- and that was before the tide came in.

Sadly, I was the oldest person in the group. I saw my first game when Wally Butts was still roaming the sidelines. Most of the others started watching in the 1960s, but more than made up for what they lacked in longevity with experience.

One bunch had been to virtually every game during Mark Richt's tenure and tried to relive every win. Their memories were a bit murky about some of the details of some of the games, however. As the meeting moved along I could understand why.

The president finally adjourned the meeting around suppertime. I think the shrimp and oysters at the Crab Trap were calling his name. He promised that we would reconvene at 10:30 Friday morning, however, and the second meeting was even better than the first.

And we are not an exclusive club. Everyone is welcome, as long as you meet the criteria. Next meeting is the fourth Thursday in November, 2012. Y'all come. The Lord willing, I'll be there.

Darrell Huckaby