I arrived at the spot about half an hour early, despite my "Where the heck am I going?" moment and decided to take a little walk around the Village before going to the spot where I was supposed to meet the head of the group and another prospective member. Here's the thing about Greenwich Village for those who have never been. The streets are laid out like they were designed in a collaboration between M.C. Escher and Stephen King. Streets intersect each other at odd angles, curve seemingly at random, and occasionally a street will split in two with both parts retaining the same name, or even intersect itself. If you're from upper Manhattan you can get lost trying to walk around the block. And I did. Somewhere around Gay street (I'm sure it will be a favorite visiting spot of the incoming Republicans. I feel bad for the straight single guys who live on Gay street. Not just because of all the closeted Republicans who will be trolling them in a few weeks but also because it must be really tough to pick up girls when you live on Gay street. "Want to come back to my place?" "Sure, where do you live?" "I have half of a small duplex on Gay street." "Oh....I see. Did you want me to help you pick out a window treatment?") I realized I wasn't sure where I was or how to get back to where I had been. I eventually did, with plenty of time to spare, but I was much chagrined to learn how bad I am at navigating my own city. It's not my fault though, the Village is really poorly designed. It's called that because what it is what most New Yorkers imagine a real village to be. No tall buildings, lots of quaint local characters, and street design by the sort of inbred idiots who would actually choose to live somewhere other than New York.
The coffee shop we met at was a nice little New York place, which is to say it was approximately 5 square feet and the counter was (wo)manned by a surly lesbian with half an inch of hair, multiple facial piercings, and a look that said "I hate working for the patriarchy but I have to eat so I do so and simply transfer the hatred on to the people who keep me enslaved in this position of indignity and servitude, which is you, customers. Would you like some lemon with your tea? Patriarchal oppressors always enjoy a nice lemon slice." Just the way a coffee shop should be. The head of the group had her dog with her so we had to sit outside on the benches. People said hello to her and knew her dog by name. Leaves fell from a tree branch over our heads. It was the village.
The other woman was a bit late so I talked to the head of the group for awhile and she seemed like a nice sort. I was able to deduce based on her vague references to college that she is somewhere between 33 and 35 years old. That's cool. Somehow the conversation turned to High School and Karim's silky smooth hands during our ballroom dancing class. I think I was funny, if not charming.
The other woman arrived and we all sat and discussed the group and other stuff. We stayed there for about an hour and forty minutes talking and sipping on Roibos. Woman #2 (I know their names but I'm always cautious with names) was was probably around 28 with blue eyes and relatively bad skin, and probably the quietest and meekest person I have met in a long time. She wasn't shy per se as she talked quite a bit and even discussed some pretty out there fiction stuff she wanted to work on, but her voice was tiny and her body language very inward. I have no idea how she survives in New York. Woman #1 was relatively tall (not as tall as I am but maybe 5'8") and olive skinned with a brash New York attitude tempered by enough sweetness that you can tell she's not originally from the city.
The discussion went well and I think I will be joining the writing group. Everyone else seems to be older and professionally published but that's just a challenge. The group will force me to write more carefully and better. That's a good thing. Plus if I can match up to the rest of them that will mean that I might be able to make it as a writer. If not, that means I'm not ready. I have nothing to lose, right? I'm going to at least try it out.
The actual experience meeting is probably worth mentioning as well, if only because I was socially competent, which could be a concern. I was there with two strange women, both showing plenty of breast and thigh (I know, you all just got visions of a bucket of fried chicken but I swear I didn't ditch the writing meeting and gorge on KFC). That could be very intimidating for someone like me, but I stayed calm and just acted like myself, making sardonic cutting jokes (which were appreciated and provoked lots of laughter, especially from Shygal) and academic references (which were not as appreciated because it sounded like I was lecturing and perhaps I didn't make the connections clearly enough). It went fine and I wasn't either intimidated or forced by lack of self-esteem to try and dominate the conversation. I fit in pretty well for someone a decade younger. It was good. It might have helped that both mentioned their significant others and so were not available, but I'm still proud of myself. The crushing self-doubt and questioning came on the train ride back when I replayed some of my more awkward comments and tried to figure out if I should have just not made them or fleshed them out a bit more, but I'm not going to worry about it. Nobody is perfect in conversation, even Winston Churchill made gaffes, and if people don't like me then they can go fuck themselves up the ass with a diesel powered vibrator.
This should be good. I will be able to take my writing to the next level or at least see that it can't go there yet and know that I have a lot of work to do. Plus there will only be one or two other guys there so I'll get used to dealing with flocks of women and estrogeny conversation. If things go too bad I will show up to a meeting in a Jeremy Shockey jersey, a Mets cap, and a big foam #1 finger. I already dropped TMQ's name into the conversation so that they could know that I am very masculine and straight and totally insecure about it, the way a man oughta be. Now to figure out what to write for the first piece, which isn't due for a few weeks but should be my best foot to put forward. Hmmm....