Trapped in a Sitcom
Has it ever happened to you? Have you ever been in a situation so strange, frustrating or silly that you felt like you were trapped in a scene from a sitcom?
Years ago I saw a lady in a hospital hallway. I was young and she was an older woman, perhaps in her sixties. She was leaning against the wall, looking down, struggling with something, one foot raised behind her. I quickly realized that her slip was stuck to the heel of her shoe and for whatever reason she could not bend the right way to free the damned thing. I offered to help. She said, “I’m having a Lucy moment.” I knew exactly what she meant. She was a little embarrassed but obviously relieved when the slip was removed and stuffed quickly into her handbag. “Oh, Lucy, you got some ‘splainin’ to do!”
Sitcoms make us laugh because the fictitious people in the show are in uncomfortable situations. We laugh because it isn’t us. Better you than me! Haha. Only, sometimes we are in uncomfortable, silly situations. Then they aren’t so funny. Until later….maybe…..perhaps.
I was invited to the “writer’s group” in my condo community. The sweet lady with the British accent who called me on the phone to extend the invitation was very gracious and, in spite of knowing myself well enough to dread being a part of any “group”, I agreed to it and went to a meeting.
First of all, it was too early in the morning. I got up in the middle of the night for years in order to submit to my indentured servitude. I am not a morning person. I no longer have to get up in the dark and I do not like getting up early. I felt horrible. I wanted to sleep. My tea made me feel sick. Ugh.
I found the room where the meeting was held – there were already about 4 or 5 people there. SILENCE as I entered the room. Ah, that’s always comforting. Sends you right back to grade or high school, feeling left out or like everyone else knows something that you don’t. The English lady was there, thank goodness, and patted the seat next to hers indicating that I should sit there. Everyone else stared. I wanted to run for my life already and I had just arrived. This was going really well.
The man to the English lady’s left was the “leader.” He spoke very softly and was almost impossible to hear. He appeared to be extremely old. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against old people. It is what inevitably happens if we live long enough and I am on that trajectory, just like everyone else. However, this man could barely move anything, including his lips. Then he wanted to take attendance. Attendance? Damn, maybe I AM back in grade school! Seriously? There are five or six people here and you have to take attendance?
Here we go around the table. Oh, joy. What fun. First he said his name and then told the person to his left to speak. Next was a youngish (meaning in her sixties) woman with short gray hair who smiled pleasantly. Then another woman, similar. Same thing. Then a burly guy. Next to him was another middling woman, slightly overweight, poufy gray hair (indicating to me it was teased, so she might be 5-10 years older than I). She appeared to be a nervous type, constantly on the verge of tears. Then a woman who was also on the pretty, pretty, pretty elderly side and an old man, bent over, with a few straggly white hairs on his head who sat to my right. Last one in is a rotten egg! That was me. I guess everyone knew the English lady. Or they forgot about attendance at that point.
The great leader then ordered each person to read something they had written aloud. Oh, great! Now it’s show and tell time! The pleasantly smiling woman shared something trite and juvenile that ended with a quote from scripture. Something about colors and butterflies. I tried desperately not to roll my eyes or spit. I don’t remember what the next person read. It must have been impressive. The burly guy didn’t have anything so he just told those of us gathered there that he had received his 19th nervous breakdown. No, I’m kidding, it was his 19th rejection from publishers. Wow, that must be fun. (Indie publishing is looked down upon as inferior and self-aggrandizing. I don’t care.)
The teary eyed woman said that her book had been published. She was published. So there. (I found out later that she was not approached by a publisher or given an advance. No, in fact, she had hired a company to print and bind her book. She paid for it. She is no more “published” than I am.) She read something about Italy that supposedly was set in the 1940s or 50s. It was long winded and didn’t really go anywhere. I wasn’t sure what the point was supposed to be. At least she didn’t cry.
The elderly lady was hard of hearing. This became apparent when she started speaking because she was very, very LOUD! I hoped my horror didn’t show on my face. I tried desperately not to laugh or snicker, but she was hurting my ears. I wanted so very much to up and leave. But I was trapped now, terribly trapped in a bad sitcom.
The man to my right pulled out an entire collection that he had fashioned into a book, of sorts, or a large folder. This was his anthology, his masterpiece. They were all poems, essays, homilies dedicated to his wife. His late wife. His late wife who died ten years ago. This man needed a grief counselor, a psychiatrist or a support group, not a writer’s group. This was both sad and alarming and pathetic. My feet were itching to get the hell out of there.
Joy, joy!!! My turn! Here are my books. “Please pass them around the table”. Okey, dokey. One is a memoir, the other a children’s book. Yes, I’ve had some sales. Yes, I am an indie pub writer. The English lady thought people would have questions about that and be interested in finding out how to do it. There were no questions, no one gave a ding dang damn. 19 rejections said, “Good for you.” Yep. I also get paid to write for a blog. “That’s nice.” It is possible that they had no idea what a blog is, but I will never know.
The English lady, who actually worked for a real, live publisher once, read something, but my mind was already gone. I looked out the windows. I calculated how long it would take to walk to my car and get the hell away from them. Ah, ta da. “The meeting is adjourned.” Oh, please come back! Please come back? Are you for real? I’m in hell. Not coming back, leaving as fast as I possibly can. I’m sorry, dear English lady, you are the only one here who is anywhere near being a professional and the only one who has shown me any interest or respect. Well, they won’t have me to kick around anymore. Sure hope they have fun at their next masturbation party.
Being trapped in a sitcom is absolutely no fun at all unless you are an actor in an actual sitcom. When we have sitcom moments, Lucy moments – they are terrible.
Ah, but that was long ago, over seven months ago, in fact. Long enough now that I can actually laugh about it. But I get to be transported back to the entire experience every single month when I get a message on my phone machine. “The meeting will be this Thursday. Please let us know if you will attend.”