Friday, October 11, 2013

Off We Go To P.E.O.



P.E.O. threw us a curve ball the other night.  Wait, no, they threw me a curve ball.  Judy had previously experience a P.E.O. group I couldn’t attend to talk about “the book.”

(Remember, we wrote Hot Cross Buns, which is coming up on its first anniversary? I now-- almost facetiously-- call it The Book That Won’t Go Away, which really torques Judy but I can’t help myself.)

But back to our P.E.O. soiree.  P.E.O., has always baffled me. I know a lot of women who are members, but no one will ever tell me what P.E.O. is.  Well, if the intent was to keep the goings on of P.E.O. a secret, Google blew the hubcaps right off that pinkie-finger, do-not-tell promise.  Alas, even Google  wouldn’t cough up what the letters P.E.O. stand for, so the organization scores on that matter.

Cliff Note definition:  It kind of reminds me of Junior League minus wine and a ton of food.  They do an incredible job supporting education and even have a college of their own, Cottey College.

They have a logo: See above

I think the logo could use a little updating, but hey, it works for them.  Plus, you can be buried with your star which I guess members  get upon joining.  You can also have it put on your headstone.  The Junior League doesn’t give you anything to pack for your trip to eternity and I’ve never seen a headstone with “Junior League” on it. P.E.O. scores again.

They have some interesting founderettes, but this woman kind of caught my attention, and scared the hell out of me.   Meet Arabella:
Iowa Wesleyan is not only the birthplace of P.E.O., but it also graduated the first woman licensed to practice law in the United States, Arabella “Belle” Babb Mansfield. Belle later became Founder Alice Bird Babb’s sister-in-law when Alice married Belle’s brother Washington Irving Babb in 1873.

Notable P.E.O. founderette, Arabella "Belle" Babb Mansfield
(a.k.a., Arabella Don't-mess-with-me-or-I'll-pull-your-socks-up-around-your-ears Baab Mansfield)

So, I show up with Judy at my inaugural P.E.O. meeting.  My big, erroneous assumption was that the attendees had read the book.  As it turns out, Judy and I are “The Program,” of which P.E.O. has at every meeting.  No one had read the book.

As it turns out Judy and I are really good at improvisation. Just read the book if you don't believe me. We also only had 30 minutes.  It took us six years to hatch this book so it’s only reasonable to assume we need more than 30 minutes to talk about it. We rolled with it.

We ran with the educational angle -- how the hey two people write fiction together and how we self-published. Will we write another book? We went over our time limit and most of the ladies purchased the book.  Hopefully, they will follow my instructions not to share their books and insist their friends buy their own.

Once we finished, I was kind of hoping they would just continue with their meeting while we hung around – plus, I think dessert was on the agenda – and I could learn more about P.E.O.  But no such luck.  We were politely, and with much appreciation for the appearance, ushered out the door.



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