(original post-date: October 2, 2009)
I’m not a group person. Or, more accurately, I’m not terribly motivated within a group setting. (The virtually badgeless girl scout sash I sported in the fourth grade exists as proof.) So when my friend, Diane, asked if I would be interested in joining a theatre group, I didn’t jump at the opportunity.
It was the mid-80’s. It was New York. Diane, whom I had known since our prep school days in Virginia, was pursuing an acting career, and she was in the theatre group for that very reason. Comprising actors, actresses, directors, and writers, the collective was dedicated to staging original work. And they were always looking for writers. Diane hoped I’d bring my pen to the table.
I suppose there was a lull in the telephone dialogue (while I was trying to motivate myself to become something that I’m not). Diane jumped into that lull. “Katie,” she said, “all the men are straight.”
“When’s the next meeting?” I replied.
The thing is, I have always been attracted to right-brain men, and in New York, the idea of a theatre group filled with straight men was something I just couldn’t resist. So what if I wasn’t a “group person?” I was in my late 20’s, and finding a man was at the top of my agenda.
It took only a few weekly workshops (and the ever-popular post-workshop pitchers of beers) for me to befriend a fellow writer. Like me, Josh* was doing everything he could to get published or produced. We bonded over the struggle. We also were attracted to one another. And so one night, we left the post-workshop soiree together, and we rode the subway up to my apartment on 110th Street.
Shortly after we entered my large room, I filled in the awkward sense of what’s next? by picking up an item that had been in my Christmas stocking just two months earlier. It was one of those little desktop calendars that used to be popular: 4” by 4”; tear off the day and move on. This particular calendar was dedicated to Libras, and so each page featured that day’s horoscope. Each of the pages also included a list of three famous people born on that day. (So, in a sense, it was not an exclusively Libran accessory.)
Given that Josh and I were both writers, I was using words-on-paper to make the first move. (We needed to get the foreplay going, after all.) I flipped the pages of the calendar so as to reveal the three people born on my day (October 2nd). With pride, I showed him my list: Groucho Marx, Mahatma Gandhi, and… okay, Rex Reed. (The third name would be different today, no doubt. Kelly Ripa? Sting?)
Josh was clearly impressed, and he also felt challenged. When he held out his hand, I knew he wanted me to pass over the calendar. I did so, and he quickly found his birthday (May 10th). Together, we looked at the list. Silence. Who are these people? Truly, the list might as well have said John Doe, John Doe, and John Doe. (Had Rex Reed been born on May 10th, he would have held the number one spot.)
Josh – my fellow writer; my comrade in the struggle to be published or produced – was clearly disappointed. But he had the presence of mind to buy a little time...
He looked at his list in consternation...
He flipped back to October 2nd and looked again at my list...
He nodded (again) to convey respect...
He then returned to his list.
Then, he looked at me. “You’re gonna have to work a lot harder than I am,” he said.
*not his real name; he probably wouldn’t care, but since I haven’t been in touch with him…