An old colleague of mine e-mailed me over the summer inviting me to join his fiancée’s new writing group. With my usual posse becoming more frequently unavailable and wrapped up in their own little worlds, aside from my work and writing, my own little world was starting to feel a little empty. I desperately needed to broaden my circle a bit. This would be a great chance to join something that focuses on one of my passions AND meet some new people, so I accepted the invitation.
I’ve been fully invested in this little group ever since.
Now if only I would invest in a watch.
“Sorry I’m late,” I called across the café, ushering myself to my waiting table.
“What was it this time? Or should we ask who?” Dylan, a late twenty something, recovering frat boy turned educator inquired about my usual tardiness with a smirk before sipping his usual hot chocolate. Because he actually has quite the flair for writing poetry and, well, he’s pretty (I’m a complete sucker for anyone with blue eyes and curly blonde hair); I tend to overlook his snarky demeanor. Almost.
“You better be careful,” I cautioned him. “That drinks gonna go straight to your ass and in a few years, that’s probably all you’ll have left, so be kind to it.”
“Clever,” he bellowed. “Hey, there’s an idea for your next column. Serial Blonde and his time of the month.”
“Okay boys, enough,” Chandra, our group’s ringleader piped in, “put them away. You’re both huge. Speaking of huge, I have some very exciting news.”
“That was the most awkward segue way ever,” I replied. “But do tell.”
“My friend Rachel has asked me if I would like to guest lecture her creative writing class,” she began.
“That is quite exciting,” Yue Ying responded shyly. She arrived in the states from her native China less than a year ago to continue her education. She often feels like the odd girl out. I think she’s fabulous.
“If this works out, this could be a great opportunity for the more qualified members of our little group to do the same. This is why we write, after all.”
“To bring people together through use of the written word,” Alexander faithfully offered. Sweet, loveable, slightly nerdy Alex. Sometimes I just wanna hug him, most of the time I wanna mess his hair up a little bit, tear the glasses off his face and plead with him to live, just live. Kind of like Mame did with the Gooch.
“That’s great honey, but qualified?” Chandra’s fiancé Nicolas asked.
“She means her, me and Blondie,” Dylan offered dryly.
“Huh?” I stumbled, nearly spilling my delicious fruit smoothie.
“That’s what she means by qualified. We’re published. We have more experience to share,” he explained in his usual deliberate, pretentious manner.
“Let’s not over inflate that already bulbous ego of yours,” I recovered, dismissing him. “I’m proud of my column but I’m not going to stand up in front of a class and act like I’m hot shit because of it. Besides, Chan’s got the book deal. I’m merely an amateur.”
“If I had two years of published columns to my name I wouldn’t be so blasé about it,” Dylan fired back. “Quite a bit of my poetry has won contests and have been published several times. I think that’s worth bragging about. There’s no room for modesty in this world. Writer’s can use all the positive attention they can get.”
“Perhaps if you spent less time bragging you might actually get some positive attention.”
“Um, guys?” Alex meekly interrupted. “That’s kind of putting the cart before the horse, don’t you think? Chan’s not even given her first lecture yet.”
With that, dear readers, like the Dallas Cowboys against the Buffalo Bills, the geeky kid in the corner put the kibosh on any chance of either Dylan or myself winning this particular pissing contest.
“Okay, we’ll revisit this topic at another time,” Chandra, who at this point had a face on her making her look like she was standing next to Bambi’s mother when she was shot, attempted to move things forward. “Right now I believe Yue Ying’s ready to share some of her writing with us.”
“Yes, thank you,” she answered. “Before I read to you what I have written, Blossom in a Field of Wheat, I have a question for Robert. What does it mean for one to act like hot shh…” at which point the poor girl covered her mouth and turned about twelve shades of red.
Nicolas hid a smile. Dylan of course smirked. Chandra glared at me like Satan was sitting on my lap feeding me grapes. Curiously, the only person who didn’t react was Alex, who could hardly take his eyes off Yue Ying.
“You are too much,” Nicolas chuckled half an hour later walking me to my car.
“I think your bride to be is gonna kill me.” I replied.
“Are you kidding? She loves you. She thinks you’re a hoot. She just doesn’t want you and Dylan scaring people away.”
“She should actually be concerned about me scaring Dylan away. I’m this close to telling that blowhard to….”
“Oh stop,” Nicolas interrupted. “Leave the poor little straight boy alone. He puffs up and gets all haughty because you intimidate him. He’s not that bad a guy. Chandra grew up with him and she's a pretty good judge of character.”
“Since when is narcissism good character?” I asked.
“Well, I put up with Nic,” Chandra answered, joining us.
“And I love you almost as much as I love myself honey,” he kidded, kissing her forehead.
“PDA’s are so passé,” I admonished them.
“You know, I thought you were supposed to be sweet and funny,” Chandra joked.
“Sweet like battery acid,” I replied, to which Nicolas laughed and nodded.
“Oh, pooh on both of you,” she replied. “Until next week?”
“Until next week,” I answered climbing into my car.
Rather a motley crew of personalities this group has turned out to be, but isn’t that what I wanted? I think so.
“Catch you later, Blondie”, Dylan mumbled, walking by my car.
On the other hand, maybe I should reassess how broad I want my new circle to be.
Essential Download: "What Is This Feeling?"
Artisit: Idina Menzel, Kristen Chenoweth & Company
Available On: Wicked
Originally published in the November 2007 issue of The Empty Closet, New York State’s Oldest Continuously-Published LGTB newspaper since 1973, through the Gay Alliance of Genesee Valley.