“Don’t you think Oprah would love to meet you?” Lezlie asked.
“Probably not,” I replied. “She holds some thin views and I think I would probably challenge them.”
“Well, yes. To do her show, she has to be flexible,” Lezlie agreed.
The idea, though, that anyone would love to meet me seems baffling. I’m just a, just a, just a. . .
I know, somewhere deep inside, that my real skill is my deep viruosity. Anyone can read my stuff, my poetry, but what they cannot do is synthesize and come up with connections & considered responses in real time. They just have never been that immersed in my way of seeing & thinking, and truth be told, they never will be.
Now, on some levels that is a benefit. They also don’t carry the baggage that I carry, don’t have the welts, scars and open wounds. They can just be missionaries, oversimplifying, rather than visionaries carrying the experience that got me the wisdom on their back.
But Lezlie, you see, well, she sees fascinating stuff that is of value. She doesn’t have a lot of time and energy to engage it outside of our occasional hours, but she sees it.
She sees a style, black with a splash of color. (“It’s clerical,” I said, “but I’m sure in another time another place you would have been put on the priestess track.” “In another time, another place, I was on the priestess track,” she retorted.)
Lezlie talked about a new stage, a more public stage in my life, and while I resisted it, I know that it’s out or down for me.
It is surprising to have someone who is excited about what I can offer the world. Being excited & proud isn’t really a family habit here. The idea that I am that good, good enough that people would want to meet me, or make a movie about me, well, that just seems off.
“Were you really called ‘stupid’ as a kid?” Lezlie asks me, after sharing her own bête noir.
Yes, well, yes. I wasn’t ever thinking like others, and to them I was being stupid in not taking the easy way, in not just going along to get along, in standing up for a unique vision.
Lezlie noticed because I declared that I wasn’t stupid, that old deep seated fear still well entrenched.
It was years and years ago that I started telling my sister that she is gorgeous and brilliant, asking her to kiss my cheek. I knew how much I needed to be supported in being beautiful, so I support her, and others; you get what you give, after all.
That kind of affirmation isn’t so easy to get. I may know that I am very good at what I do, but believing that others see that is very hard. My life is so inwardly focused, without much play — no one to give me outfit tips or warn me when I have lipstick on my teeth — that I don’t trust connection.
When TBB asked me to help host that first talent show at my first SCC, so many years ago, after having met only a few hours before — “I always knew you wanted to be a mistress, but a mistress of ceremonies?” — we knew something about each other that would be proven again the next night when the Atlanta Gay Men’s Choir didn’t show and she pulled me up to vamp. What we knew is that we had the bond of the trouper, the eye of the performer, and on stage we would protect each other by giving a good show.
I suspect that Lezlie & I know that about each other too, that we both can see man behind the curtain, both can figure out a way to make sure the show goes on by taking care of each other in the spotlight.
This, at least in my experience, is a rare understanding. “You have so many skills,” Lezlie tells me, “speaking, writing, poetry, networking. . .” How does she know that, and why should I trust that she knows that?
I suspect it’s because she has the eye of the performer, honed by a few trips around the world, that lets her see what isn’t quite obvious to the rubes who think it is all magic, who think that it’s about just letting the natural happen, and not about concious, calculated and constructive choices.
It’s all about the preparation, as any trouper knows, not just the rehesal beforehand, but the years of learning & seasoning. That’s what lets you just get out and get naked and trust that your performance will touch people.
That’s not something I’m good at. Who would want to meet me? Who would find me attractive, and if they do find me attractive, what the hell is wrong with them? Do I really want to join any club that would have someone like me as a member?
All very woman fears, as Lezlie reminds me, telling the story of how her high-school daughter is overstuffing suitcases for a two day trip to check out colleges. What will she wear, how will she look, what if people aren’t entranced? Worse, what if they are?
Yes, I note, but she has a mother telling her that she looks fabulous. Sure, she dismisses that support with “You have to say that because you are my mom,” but she also needs to hear it again and again and again.
Can I be attractive? Can I bring people to me and leave them wanting to see & hear more of me?
Or are my family right, I’m just a pile of poop that should make something out of myself?
Ah, being human.