“Class is in Session” #46

Posted on April 13, 2011


I was late to my first community writing class at the Comsewogue Public Library.  As you may have imagined, it was because my father needed to stop at Walmart first for a little swindling action.  Priorities are priorities.  I was lucky he was even doing me the grandiose favor of chauffeuring me to my ‘waste of money’ class.  I should be spending my time trying to get a job instead.  And of course, I’m not allowed to take the car by myself…because I might drive it to Mexico or something.  So my father drives, we go as a family, and we operate on HIS time.

I am armed with a notebook, not a laptop, because I’m old school and always will be.  Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote on paper.  Anne Sexton used a pen.  And so, it shall be said, did Myra. 

I have always been nervous in class situations, and that familiar tightness from the bottom of my stomach rose to the occasion again, only compounded by my overt lateness.  I nonetheless tried to summon my mojo and forget my fears that everyone would be an amazing writer, confident person, and all-knowing visionary who could see that I’m a frazzled girl from crazy parents who felt like a trembling mouse, terrified to be seen.   Despite my fear, I carry the motto of “Just jump off the cliff and you will fly.”  And so I walked in.

The motley group assembled in the upstairs fluorescent-lit room was an eclectic one, to say the least.  Around the circle of chairs sat a variety of writers, or shall I say writer-wannabes, in search of expression of their work.  The teacher, mostly bald with a mullet, talked way too much about his book of poetry as if this were his forum.  Maybe no one bought his book, and so this was his one chance to be validated by an audience.  I’ll call him Marvin.   Marvin with the mullet.

There’s the woman in her late 40’s wearing a velour jumpsuit.  I’ll call her Bunny.  She takes dictation.  And by that I mean “dick-tation.”  According to Lizette, the three-hundred pound beaut who takes up two chairs to sit, probably because she stores all the rumors about the whole world in her humongous ass, told me that “Bunny” was said to be caught in the supply closet with the head of the department at Stony Brook Hospital giving him a blow job.  Bunny with the velour jumpsuit.  As you could imagine, her writing sucks.

There’s “Serious Samuel.”  50’s.  African American.  He rarely laughs.  His attempt at poetry is way too serious.  But his personal essays, although he declares them ‘amateur,’ nearly brought me to tears on several occasions.  You can tell he doesn’t like to talk about his early days of poverty and racism, his most vulnerable time, but what people never seem to understand is that their most vulnerable selves are their most lovable.  When he writes about not being accepted, it touches my innermost chord.  If nothing else, I know about not being accepted. 

There’s “Lipstick.”  She may be around my age, or a little younger.  Confident.  Nice pale pink lipstick that probably comes from Bobbi Brown and not CVS.  I’ll tell you what I don’t like about her.  She speaks too much.  You know those types – always taking an opportunity to raise their hand and speak.  I want to say, “Listen, you little attention whore, there are other people here, and we don’t always want to hear your voice.”  But of course, I just think this loudly and sit there with a gentle perma-grin.

Then there’s “Corduroy.”  A Japanese hipster of sorts.  Little goatee.  And of course, beige corduroys.  He came with a collection of “artistic” personal essays.  When he reads, he feigns a certain shyness or modesty, yet underneath you know he’s dying to keep reading.  His writing sucks, but he’s Japanese so I let it slide.

We had to go around the circle and just introduce ourselves and say a little bit about why we were here.  By the time it was my turn, I was sure my entire face and neck were red, and my voice quivered.  I did my best to say my name correctly, and then of course tried a little humor to break the ice.  “They only let me out of the insane asylum on Tuesdays so I thought I’d come here, because it was close.”  I’m glad everyone laughed.  If only they knew how true that was.

Our teacher, Marvin, read from his bullshit book so much, I was starting to get overwhelmed with nausea at the sub-par writing as well as his mullet.  With the poor quality of most of the other work, I was prepared to walk out and never come back.  But there was one thing that kept me there and will keep me coming back.  Josh…

With big brown curly hair, Josh sat about four people down from me in blue jeans and a loose fitting t-shirt.  Probably in his early thirties, he has a soft quality to him that bespeaks of niceness, but a confidence in his voice when he reads, which is not too frequently.  Shy, but strong.  Just my type.  While Lizette is reading a personal essay about helping her mother with Diabetes, and I’m really rooting for her and trying to hold her in support with my gentle perma-grin, I can’t help but think of Josh and I on our honeymoon in the Maldives.  Me, in my turquoise bikini, and him in his Speedos, trunks, wet from the ocean and embraced in a kiss while a sea lion looks on with admiration.  We are made for each other, I decide.  The chemistry between us is palpable – well, at least in my head.

When it is time to leave I walk out of the library and stand under the cement canopy, expecting my parents to be late, as they always were when I was a kid.  Surprisingly they show up just then.  I get in the backseat, and my father says, “Wait just a second.  I want to return something.”  My father is wearing a big ragamuffin Rastafarian hat that he probably stole from someone’s garbage.  My mother is wearing too much frosted-coral lipstick that she did not keep within the lines.  “What’d you do with the book, Linda?” my father asks accusingly of her while still chewing a Wendy’s burger dripping mayonnaise/ketchup off his beard.

“What do you mean, what did I do with the book?  You’re blaming me?  You’re the one who loses everything,” she retorts, disgusted.

“Alright, alright, enough.  Do you see it in the backseat, Myra?”

Just then, I look to my right and see Josh coming out of the doors.  I duck down, quicker than lightning and scream from the floor of the backseat, “Quick!  Drive!  Don’t ask questions!  Now!  Hit the gas!!!!  Round the corner!  Let’s go!!!”

My father slowly puts the car into drive and exits the library in-road.  I get up cautiously and look back.  Josh is looking my way.  I duck back down while exclaiming, “SHIT!”

My father pulls over and says, “What the hell is wrong with you?!”

My mother is just staring at me.  “What happened, Myra?  You are acting CRAZY!”

I just stare at them, shell-shocked, eyes wide open. 

My mother says, “Are you embarrassed or something?”

My father says, “You’re ashamed of your parents?  We come out of our way to pick you up, and this is how you act?”

I don’t know what to say.  So much going on at once. 

Luckily my parents have a short attention span and they start arguing about what to do next.  My father blames me for messing up their errands trajectory and settles on the post office.  He parks and leaves my mother and I in the car.  She turns to look at me, and just says, “You met a cute guy?”

Me – silence.

She continues, “He’s gonna have to meet your parents at some point.”  She smiles with that I’m-holding-back-laughter-because-that-was-hysterical feeling, and I can’t help it.  I start laughing until we’re both in tears.  Not if I can help it, Mom.

Posted in: Humor, Life