So there I am at Starbucks.
I notice some guy at his computer looking over what appears to be a story in Word (the documents just have a certain “look”).
I start talking to him and you just know the type. Immediately, he seems guarded, perhaps even a little condescending when I explain to him that I, as well, am a writer.
“I’m a writer, too.”
– smiles and nods –
Evidently, he was going through his Master’s in Creative Writing (from Sarah Lawrence).
I mean, obviously, I couldn’t compare, right?
I mean, I’m black and… what’s that school where you got your ‘Bachelor’s’ anyway?
Who even knows if he was thinking these things – either consciously or unconsciously.
Regardless, he’s busy (he later says) and not privy or willing to engage in conversation – I assume – from the present manner of his posture and gestures.
Despite this, I ask him if he’d like to read one of my poems. He agrees. So, I search for something I assume would entertain him. I ended up just showing him my most recent poem.
I wait patiently, making observations of my hand’s texture and the patterns in my clothing – things that always fascinate me.
A minute or two later, a brief expression of amusement is subverted by an expression of a bizarre meld of confusion and curiosity when he asks me, “Did you write this?”
It seems so alien. It seems so trite and disrespectful because I had already told him it was my poem and it’s not like people go around showing other people’s poems to random strangers, asking them what they think.
So, was this what the fishing hook snagged? Was this the cockeyed beast lurking beneath the waters now flopping on the deck with its mouth gaping, telling all its secrets?
What “color” do you think this man was? You probably already have an assumption… is that your fish-eyed beast? Is that your unconscious villain?
Typically, when people read my writing, they don’t expect much. I have good articulation and diction (usually) and I don’t pose myself to be threatening (unless I’m nervous). Yet, for all of that, I still come across as unassuming. Intriguing, yes, but almost benign. Like anyone else. I come with no airs of celebrity or superiority because those things aren’t true. I’m just a common man.
So, people read my work and (given its depth and wealth of ideas) they’re suddenly baffled – or astounded. Is this a common man or is he not?
Who knows for how long this effect has any weight. The poem’s words sink in then dissolve like salt and the person is free to carry on as they wish, either demystifying my new mantle or continuing on with their mission.
So, as I stated, this man was busy. He said he would connect with me on Twitter but I’m not sure if he ever did.
It’s one of my missions to meet writers wherever they may be.
On that day, weeks ago, it seems I had run into a stalemate.
After all, I never got a chance to read his work, did I?