What’s that? New blog post, you say? No… “We must be mistaken,” you cry in disbelief, for you had given up hope on the promise of an update from my side of the world eons ago. I had abandoned you, selfishly, for a life of uncharted adventures and wordy jokes whispered to strangers. You’d moved on, fulfilling your need for my unmistakable oddities and punny nature by binge watching Season 4 of New Girl on Netflix or calling up your respective fathers to get that cringe-worthy fix of bad dad joke humor. Well, friends, I’m back.
(Disclosure: I know none of you were actually waiting with bated breath for a blog post, how narcissistic of me to dream of such a thing, but this quaint little thing called “blatant self-aggrandizing” formed a façade of confidence that got me behind the keyboard today, so hello. These are my sincerest thanks for reading.)
I’m in the process of making friends with the new USAC students. I am proud to say I swiftly established myself as the “just give her a pity laugh ” girl. I’m fairly certain I have yet to hear the sweet sounds of sincere laughter in my presence. My “jokes,” air quote them if you will, are met instead solely by those drawn out, single breath half-sighs that happen to start with a strong “h” and sound more like an indignant goose than human joy.
This has been a crucial time for friend acquisition. While I successfully conned a small number with the classic “Doooo you want a brownie? Great! ….Wanna be friends? Ha! Too late you already ate the brownie we’re bound in friendship for life,” I can only spend so much of my grocery budget on (additional) chocolate. Alas, there is still a large portion of this set of students who elude the ranks of the desserts-deceived who respond to my chipper “oh hey, friends!”
Should I worry that my go-to method of making friends still falls on the kindergarten approach? Shouldn’t I have grown? Matured? Found a confidence in my friend-making ability beyond my recipe repertoire? Yes. Yes I should have. But, on the bright side, I have in fact matured. I swindled some people into friendship with a decadent and sophisticated chocolate mousse, so there. If that isn’t an adult approach to socializing I don’t know what is.
So I’ve friendnapped those with an inversely related sweet tooth to will power ratio, but what about the others? The ones who don’t yet know my baked goods match my disposition? (Do I mean sweet like sugar? Do I mean bitter like dark chocolate? The world may never know…) But what about the others?
The others think I’m a sleazy stripper from Reno and it is entirely, one hundred percent my fault.
Travel Writing Class, Day 3:
Our first assignment was an 800 word piece on our home town. My professor, a lauded travel writer herself, stressed the importance of a strong lead. “Keep it snappy,” she said, in what I choose to retrospectively recall as a 1940’s trans-Atlantic accent. I cross-referenced Reno stereotypes with my personal experiences. This was the result:
“Are you sure you’ve never been on a pole before? You’re a natural!” The instructor crooned with an enthusiasm paralleled only by the metal poles that divided the studio. The compliment caught me so off guard I nearly lost the grip I held on the pole with the back of my left knee, a move that would have sent me hurtling back to the hardwood floor below me and straight into a cold, hard reality check scored by a sweet soundtrack of Justin Bieber remixes. I was in Reno, Nevada, taking a pole dancing class for no reason other than it was a normal, acceptable summer afternoon pastime here in the Biggest Little City. Somebody call (Reno) 911.
Snappy? I tried. I was feeling pretty good about it. That is… until Wednesday.
You see, I wrote that lead thinking it would remain sealed in the sacred silence of professor-student confidentiality, you know, the kind akin to doctor and patient… or in my case, sinner and priest.
Wrong. I was wrong. I was very, very, very wrong.
“Please take one and pass it down, today we will be discussing all of your leads.”
I choked on a rogue almond sliver from my most recent fistful of mid-lecture trail mix.
Discussing… leads? Together? All of them? Even the one that would completely decimate this “sweet little sweets girl” reputation I had been so careful to curate?
Yes. Especially that one.
The papers spread through the classroom like a virus. I could see it there, second paragraph on the page, incubating. “Maybe mine won’t be too weird?” I thought with foolish optimism, knowing all too well that sentence has never once been true in the context of my life. I read the first lead:
“If you’re traveling to Boise you’re probably visiting relatives or traveling for business…”
aaaannnnd the lead following mine:
“It is strange to write a travel article on one’s hometown.”
For those of you at home who missed it before, here’s an instant replay of mine:
“Are you sure you’ve never been on a pole before? You’re a natural!”
Yep. Weird. Mine was weird. It was easy to tell when the masses began reading my lead. It got Maroon 5 worthy harder to breathe as sharp, mid-read exhalations of either amusement or abhorrence replaced the room’s oxygen with carbon dioxide. I felt faint. I reassured myself that we would all remain anonymous in discussing each other’s work. We would be anonymous, right? I consciously willed my shoulders to kindly remove themselves from their current home near my ears.
“So, who’s the pole dancer?” My professor probed with an impish grin.
Something within me slowly raised my right hand despite the fact the rest of me would have lopped that arm off for the chance to crawl into a dark place and to never be seen again. I was in the back of the room. Like 16 iterations of The Exorcist, my peers turned their accusing and inquisitive faces incongruously over curious shoulders to find the source.
“Ha! And you all thought it was going to be me!” jested the much more boisterous Reno resident in the class. The judgment and the “you need Jesus” of the uber religious were tangible, tangling with the wide-eyed presumptions of the side-smiling sleazes and the all out shock of those who had placed me (rightfully, I believe) into a “nice girl” box. I received writing feedback with flush cheeks, my hearing muffled by the blood pulsing in my ears. I hadn’t felt this much like I was going to hurl since assaulting my equilibrium in the pole dancing class itself. Finally, we moved on.
The lesson: if you’re going to write about that one time you took a pole dancing class, be ready for it to spin back around and strip you of your dignity in the midst of trying to make new friends. That is all.
For the curious, last weekend’s adventure landed me in Venice, Italy, for Carnival. With its perpetual haze and obscure, masked figures, the city sinks into a quiet apprehension.