Monday, February 1, 2016

Booted Out of Bootcamp

When they call this class "Memorable Memoir Bootcamp," they aren't kidding.

My experience last night was memorable.  I got booted out.

Things started nicely: 8-9 women sitting on sofas and chairs around Monica Holloway, whose memoir Driving with Dead People was critically acclaimed.  I was hoping to learn a lot from the five-week course and perhaps make friends with whom I could meet weekly or monthly as a writers' group.

During the friendly introduction, however, Monica said something about "you guys" should feel comfortable and enjoy the nice table of snacks near our circle of chairs.  

When I hear those words, I pause.  90% of the time I decide to let it pass--to sit in polite silence as I am pelted with this folksy, funsy phrase that decrees we are all alike, equals, and guys.

But occasionally I try to reason with friends or speakers or waitresses or hotel clerks.  

If I feel sorry for the person, I stay silent.  If I'm part of a large group--20-30--I don't speak out.

Last night I felt myself to be part of an intimate group where we were going to share our life stories.  I felt safe enough to voice what I was feeling.

"I am not a guy," I said firmly.

Monica was startled and explained that she likes a casual style and would not be modifying her form of address.

"Well, I don't feel comfortable being addressed as 'you guys,'" I admitted, figuring I'd just have to suck it up as usual.

I didn't smile or gush or say "I'm sorry, sweetheart, you go right ahead and call us anything you like.  I can take it.  I'm tough, and it won't be the first time."

Monica stood and left the room just as a male friend of hers walked in and joined the class.

Five minutes later, Monica returned and asked me to come outside and speak with her.

"Your money will be refunded" was all she said.

I gathered my bag and laptop and left, explaining to the class that I had been asked to leave.

As I left, my friend Kelly Giles arrived a few minutes late.  We've been in memoir classes together through the UCLA Extension, and he had told me about this memoir bootcamp four days earlier.

"You're leaving?" he asked.

"She asked me to leave," I explained, "when I told her I didn't like being called 'you guys.'"

So you guys, I'm just sayin', it was indeed a memorable memoir bootcamp.

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