I went to my Masonic lodge last night prepared for my first night in the junior deacon’s chair. As we were donning our aprons, the master told me that lodge would be conducted in the Entered Apprentice degree instead of the Master Masons’ degree, the latter being the usual degree and the part I had memorized. I protested his failure to tell me sooner, but there was nothing for it but to say the lines that the degrees have in common and wing the rest (either that or run from the building). I served as best I could, and felt that I conducted myself well.
I find beauty and comfort in the precision and predictability of a well-conducted Masonic lodge. It is like a formal garden in which every walkway is swept and every flower is in bloom, the difference being that Masonry changes but little and slowly. If I could travel back in time and emerge in the earliest Eugene lodge at the time of its inception in 1850, the primary differences would be the antique clothing and the absence of electricity. If I were to go back even earlier and attend lodge with George Washington and Benjamin Franklin, I would still recognize the essentials and most of the superfluities.
After lodge, the senior deacon renewed his determination to find me a tuxedo. To this end, he engaged the help of another. They looked me up and down while debating what size I needed. I suggested a 42, but they agreed between themselves on a 40, and I saw no point in arguing over something that I was only 99.9% sure of. While they searched, I stood behind them, hoping fervently that nothing would be found. And nothing was found, at least nothing that was not moth-eaten, white, powder blue, or velvet. Just when I thought the danger was past, they decided to seek the assistance of the Scottish Rite. 750 of its 1,000 members have died over the last few decades, so this leaves a potential warehouse of tuxedos.
It might seem ironic that I am as determined to know my part well as I am to avoid wearing a tux while performing it. My reason is that the former reflects upon my resolve and my intelligence, while the latter is a matter of taste. I accepted the post only after being assured by the master that I would not have to dress for it. Last night, I wore a sports coat without a tie. No one complained, although I take this determination to find me a tuxedo to be a tacit complaint.