Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Disappearing Poet

*This ties in with the post I was not overreacting

My Dickman Experience: Or Lack Thereof
          On Friday, I had the chance to attend a poetry reading on campus. My English instructor bribed us non-poetry loving students with the promise of replacing our lowest quiz grade with a perfect score if we attended to reading and wrote a summary. My lowest score is 8 out of 10, which is no big deal. Normally.
          Since I am less than one point away from an A in the class, and since I can’t pass up the chance to get extra credit and especially since it kills me to grade anything less than an A in any class, I knew I would have to suck it up and attend the reading in order to get those two points and therefore improve my grade.
          A moment. I am not a fan of poetry. In fact, one might describe me as a person who would rather listen to techno while watching bad 80s films in a room full of molting birds (allergies!) than to be force-read poetry. I mean no disrespect to the poets themselves by any means. I just do not enjoy the stuff. I’ve tried to like it. I’ve taken a poetry class and I’ve attended readings in coffee shops. Poetry and I were just never meant to be.
          However, moving up a letter grade was more important to me than my brain function (that made sense before I wrote it down) so I made plans to attend.
          I had my youngest daughter with me that morning, and with promises of lollipops and a trip to the library in exchange for her absolute silence, we slid through the doors to the PUB room about forty-five minutes into the reading. I realize how rude it was to show up late to something like that, but my Friday mornings are usually crammed full of appointments and errands and I just wasn’t able to make it on time.
          I guess it was also a little rude to prematurely remove my hand from the door, letting it smack shut and send the sound of my tardiness echoing through the room. My face burned with embarrassment as I tiptoed over to a spot near the wall, found a seat and pulled my daughter onto my lap. I smiled apologetically at the students who were looking at me (fans of poetry do, apparently, exist because there were several giving me the death-stare for disturbing their moment) and fixed my attention on the man standing at the front of the room in front of a microphone. He looked to be not much older than myself, wore glasses and had hair that hung in his eyes. I surprised myself by thinking Wow. A real poet. And then Okay, self. That’s a pretty juvenile assessment. Glad to know we haven’t matured past fifth grade.
          I shook my head in an effort to refocus my attention, which was a mistake because at that same moment my daughter flipped her long hair over her shoulder and our heads collided with a loud crack that was most likely heard by the people outside the building. I blinked away tears as I hugged my daughter close, praying that she wouldn’t start screaming in agony and shouting blame. As luck would have it, my daughter has super hero strength and all she did was look back at me and raise her eyebrows. I aimed a pained smile her way just as a man from the back of the room spoke up. He announced that he was sorry to interrupt, but that students needed to be released in order to get to their next class on time. I looked up at the clock. It was 10:45am. The reading was scheduled to last until 11:30am. Dude was being cut off forty-five minutes early. NOT GOOD. I had only just arrived. I hadn’t even heard the poet speak and he was already being dismissed. I had a summary to write!
          I watched helplessly as students clapped and then got to their feet, exiting through the same door I had just entered moments ago. The man who had made the initial announcement called out that the coffee was finally ready and that there were refreshments available. Some people laughed. My daughter’s body went rigid, then she turned to me with pure hope in her eyes. I knew what she was thinking. I shook my head, reminding her that we were going to the library afterward. I remained seated as I frantically tried to come up with some way of saving the assignment. I thought about waiting my turn to speak with Mr. Dickman and politely asking him which poems he had read so I could go home and look them up on the internet but decided against it because for all I know he witnessed the entire entry/disturbing fellow students/head smacking debacle and would be offended that not only could I not be bothered to show up on time, but that I was a klutz and also kind of an idiot. I then entertained the idea of posing as a reporter for the school newspaper, but decided against that because even when I was on staff for my other college newspaper fifteen years prior, posing questions to a complete stranger always made me want to vomit. But then hey, so does poetry so at least there’s a theme. My last thought involved following Mr. Dickman out to his car and waiting until no one was around before tapping him on the shoulder and pretending I recognized him as a famous poet in a random parking lot, but then I realized I hadn’t yet read any of his poetry and suppose Mr. Dickman asked which of his poems I favored? I am a terrible liar. My face gets red and I start to sweat. I’m unable to form sentences and I start to bite my lip a lot. Mr. Dickman could mistake my behavior for a stroke and call 911 and then I would have to pretend it was true because whenever I do lie (and believe me, it is almost never) I can’t stop and I get carried along with whatever situation has been set into effect. Even if I was able to stop him from dialing 911 and explain that I was lying, I think Mr. Dickman would develop an opinion of our college that would not be favorable.
          I realized that there was not much I could do about missing the reading without being completely rude to Mr. Dickman. I also did not want to be perceived as an obnoxious, vomiting liar.
I set my daughter on her feet and stood up. I gave Mr. Dickman one last glance, knowing that he may never know how close he came to pure awkwardness and a possible police report.
We slipped out the door and disappeared into the crowd. 
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