Transcript of the annual meeting held by the shareholder residents of the cooperative apartment building at 666 Toussaint Avenue. The meeting began with presentations by the Chairs of the Finance, Planning, Rules and Admissions Committees in which they reviewed their previously-distributed reports. Following these presentations, the Chair of the Board opened the meeting for questions from the floor.
Ms. Popinjay: The other day, I didn’t get on the elevator because there was a bear carrying a dolphin. Is that allowed?
Muffled voices from the floor:
Really? A bear?
Not good for the dolphin, though.
Chair: Did anyone report it to the super?
No audible response.
Ms. Makepeace: The super says the bear’s harmless.
Ms. Popinjay: I think so, too. But I’m surprised the Board allows it.
Ms. Makepeace: Why shouldn’t the Board allow it? If the bear wasn’t doing any harm…
Chair: Ralph, can you shed any light?
Mr. Marlowe [Chair of the Rules Committee]: I’ll have to investigate.
Chair: Where does this bear come from? I mean, where does he live?
Mr. Marlowe: Good question. Myrtle, you look like you want to say something.
Ms. Makepeace: Did I? Uh-uh. No. I’ve got an itch and I’m trying not to scratch it.
Chair: Myrtle, if you have anything to share with us, wouldn’t it be best to speak up?
Ms. Makepeace: Why, can’t you hear me? People keep telling me I’m loud, so I’m training myself to speak quietly.
Chair: Anyone else know anything about this bear?
Mr. Needle: Don’t forget the dolphin. Anyone know anything about him?
Ms. Popinjay: Or her.
Mr. Needle: Of course, him or her. Don’t know how you tell the difference, though.
Mr. Marlowe: I believe dolphins can’t survive out of water.
Ms. Popinjay visibly distressed: Are you saying the dolphin is dead?
Mr. Marlowe: I didn’t mean to alarm you, Mary. Just speculating aloud. I’m sure the dolphin is fine.
Mr. Needle: Do we know if it’s a real dolphin? I tell you, if I were being held by a bear, I’d be doing a lot of wriggling under that bear arm trying to get free.
Ms. Popinjay: I think she or he was asleep. Looked peaceful to me.
Mr. Marlowe: Then maybe it’s a toy dolphin. Maybe the bear likes inanimate cuddly things.
Ms. Popinjay: I swear he or she looked at me.
Chair: The bear?
Ms. Popinjay: The dolphin.
Mr. Needle: But you said he or she was asleep.
Ms. Popinjay: [inaudible].
Chair: Did the bear?
Ms. Popinjay: Did the bear what?
Chair: Did the bear look at you?
Ms. Popinjay: Sure he did. I think it’s a he—the bear.
Chair: Did he scare you?
Ms. Popinjay: No, he didn’t scare me. Like Mr. Marlowe just said about the dolphin, he was kind of cuddly. I didn’t get on the elevator because I was so surprised. I wasn’t scared.
Chair: He must come from somewhere. Did anyone ask the super?
Chair: And he must be going somewhere. Anyone see him get off? Which floor?
More inaudible muttering.
Ms. Makepeace: Is this a matter for the ASPCA?
Mr. Marlowe: More like the police, I’d think.
Ms. Popinjay: But the police would shoot him.
Chair: We can’t know that. We have to trust the police. They know what they’re doing.
Ms. Makepeace: It’s a nice bear. Let’s not put it—I mean him or her—at risk. The ASPCA should be able to manage.
Ms. Popinjay: I agree. Where there’s a hammer, there’s a nail. Where there are guns… Well, you know.
General murmur of assent.
Chair: Raise your hands. How many of you have seen a bear carrying a dolphin on the elevator?
Half the shareholders raised their hands, including Ms. Buck, Chair of the Finance Committee.
Chair: Annie, you said nothing about this before.
Ms. Buck: It never came up at our meetings.
Chair: Why would it come up if you didn’t bring it up?
Ms. Buck: There’s already so much yakking at those things. They’d never end if we started talking about bears and dolphins.
Mr. Marlowe: Annie makes a good point. We should have more flexible agendae when we seven on the Board meet each month.
Chair: That’s not a topic for this open session.
Mr. Marlowe: I’ll raise it at the next closed session, assuming shareholders vote me in.
Muttering from the floor: Of course you’ll be voted in. You on the Board always arrange to have votes by acclamation.
Chair: If anyone has problems with our election procedures, this is the time to air them.
Ms. Makepeace: Can the bear run for the Board? I mean, he spends so much time in the building, he may as well live here.
Chair: As far as I know he isn’t a shareholder.
Mr. Marlowe: Interesting. Does anyone know of any of our neighbors having gone through a metamorphosis, you know, from human being to bear?
Ms. Makepeace: Or dolphin, or both.
Mr. Marlowe: Let me ask it this way. Has anyone disappeared from this building? Any neighbor gone missing?
Chair: We’d know because we’d stop receiving monthly maintenance payments from that apartment. George [turns to the building’s managing agent], any missing payments?
Mr. Richards: A few late payments, but no pattern of none at all from any one apartment.
Chair: Hm, I thought we were getting somewhere there.
Mr. Needle: I heard what Mary said about the cuddly bear, but in my opinion it’s no longer safe to get on the elevator.
Mr. Marlowe: There’s no reason to think that. We have no reports of mauling or other signs of bear violence.
Mr. Needle: Past performance is no guarantee of future behavior.
Ms. Buck: Those are investment standards. They don’t apply to animals.
Mr. Needle: Oh, they surely do. Remember the chimpanzee who tore into his owner after they’d lived peacefully together for three years? The thing with bears is that they don’t know their own strength.
Ms. Makepeace: How do you know? Ever spoken to one?
Mr. Needle: It stands to reason. An affectionate swipe they’d give their bear friends could mean half your face if you’re a human.
Chair: I really think we shouldn’t get into matters of bear psychology. I for one am not qualified.
Mr. Needle: I don’t find this discussion very reassuring.
Mr. Marlowe: Like I said, I’ll look into this and let you know what I find out. Probably the solution is to discourage the bear from using our elevator. I’ll determine where he lives, and go from there.
Ms. Popinjay: Don’t forget the dolphin.
Chair: What about the dolphin?
Ms. Popinjay: Well, it’s strange enough having a bear riding the elevator, but it’s even stranger that he has a dolphin with him. Don’t we need to know where the dolphin lives, too?
Mr. Marlowe: I’m guessing he shares a place with the bear. From what people are saying here tonight, they’re always together.
Mr. Needle: Assuming it’s a real dolphin.
Ms. Popinjay: I already said it is. I mean, he or she is.
Chair: Well, I know people have other matters on their minds, and we’ve pretty much exhausted this topic. Let’s move on. Anyone have questions about the Finance Committee’s report?
At this point, a bear, carrying a recumbent dolphin, entered the auditorium. The meeting was adjourned to a date and time to be announced.