Sunday, August 17, 2014The summer so far has had some good stuff, some new things, and some odd happenings.I was in two short plays written by teenage playwrights. In one, I was the main character and had to play a Dominican woman in her late thirties. It was a new challenge to play a different ethnicity and flattering to pass for late thirties. I enjoyed the people I worked with. A friend and co-worker at my regular job helped me with the two Spanish sentences that were in the script. My character had an anger problem and kept getting fired from jobs and blamed it on being Hispanic (even when her boss was Hispanic). The best part was the director loved all the faces I tend to make and didn't want anyone in the audience to not be able to see my expressions. What I find remarkable is those are the same faces that typically have gotten me in trouble at jobs and in almost-fights with people since junior high school. The acting world loves my expressions and doesn't want me toI really want to be able to dedicate more of my time to that path, but in a few weeks, the jobs get demanding again and I will also be glad to receive the second job money again as I have some catching up to do with bills that I fell behind on as I do most summers.I also have connected with a group of playwrights that meets weekly. I attend as an actress and, along with others, do cold readings of their writing. Some of the playwrights are quite professional and have had plays produced. I felt very welcomed. And that's another thing I will only be able to do when on breaks from the evening job. Grrrrr.The poetry workshop I attend when I can keeps me writing poetry. In recent times, my poems have gotten more laughs than my comedy. It's a different scene. Those listening do not expect funny. So when it is funny, they are really laughing hard. I have featured in a couple of poetry readings. I have to say that doing stand-up makes everything else I do seem easier than how I used to experience it.I managed to get to several open mics to work on my comedy, met some more comics I enjoyed hearing working on their stuff, and I was pleased with my performance in a show.I have another photo shoot coming up (free!), and I'm hoping to make this one different than the previous ones. More daring.
Tuesday, August 12, 2014At the time, my then-husband and I had agreed to separate. There were many challenges going on in my home that included our son (at least as a witness, and my then-husband was involving him instead of protecting him), so I was having in general a very hard time of things. Between all that and this weird situation with comedy guy, there was no shortage of challenges coming my way. One evening my best friend, who knew everything that was going on, said, "You've been taking the high road so much, it's amazing you don't have nose bleeds."I honestly did not know how long I could last. It's not like comedy guy sincerely apologized and publicly admitted to having treated me wrong or anything. That would -- well, that would be a different person. He couldn't do that apparently.Then one day on the web site, he announced that there had been orange juice on his car engine making a bad smell. He said he didn't know how that got there. Oh my God. This was his twisted admission that he was wrong, but he couldn't address his behavior. I exclaimed to my friend, "His nose doesn't know the difference between orange juice on hot metal and pussy?"Apparently, he was giving the whole thing some thought. It was likely because his guy pals didn't think he was cool. They were, to varying degrees, older than twelve. But he couldn't address me. He had my email. This never had to be a schoolyard fight (which is now the world wide web).Weeks went by. The website was feeling generally unfriendly to me though I had some on-line buddies there. The older woman who many fought with (who did her share of instigating as well) was blocked from the site. I was more amazed at who and what was tolerated. However, it was a site for comics and fans, so I guess they could make a case that her stuff was never really comedy related. She was probably experienced as there to harass. And sometimes, it did seem that way. However, the reactions to her were more horrifying to me as she could have been ignored when behaving negatively. Some had done that. But many hadn't. At some point, I was accused of having "called them out" when they had been having trouble with her and how I encouraged her. It gave me a chance to tell them what my side of it was. I did not encourage her to mess with them. I privately advised her not to. Publicly, I ignored her when she did that. I did not egg her on. I am not of the gang mentality. If something is wrong, it's wrong. They had referred to her as my friend. I explained that not being abusive to someone doesn't make them my friend. I told them their fighting with her was more encouraging to her to continue than anything I did. I told them I couldn't believe some of the mean things that were said to an older woman and how uncalled for it was. And yes, at some point I had to say something about it. (That's what they referred to as being "called out".) With some, the air was cleared. With others, they weren't being honest with themselves as to what their problem was. And the less mature guys still were loyal to comedy guy. But even if comedy guy and I never had problems, the website wasn't for me. The more mature people disappeared. Those whose sensibilities were more like mine left or just blogged but didn't really interact with others.It was near the end-of year holidays if I remember that right, and I saw that comedy guy had changed his photo. In the new one, he was interacting happily with his child. That was my chance. It wasn't going to get better than that. I wrote a blog of what I appreciated about the site as a happy new year type thing. Mixed into the list I mentioned comedy guy by name when I said I liked his new photo because he looked happy in it.For a while, there was quiet like during a snowfall.I visited the site less and less as time went on. So it was really by chance that I happened to see a blog by comedy guy one night. In it, he mentioned me by name and wrote that I was one of the rare ones who shared opportunities. In one hour, he took the blog down and reposted it without that line. The one with the line went into his archives. Most folks in that community read the current blogs on the front page and wouldn't be likely to go into the archives. The chances were so slim that I'd see that, that it felt like something greater made sure I saw it. I believed it was genuine. He missed the opportunities. Maybe he even saw for a minute that he ruined it. But he never expressed being sorry for hurting a friend. His sorrow was for his loss, not for my feelings.
............Fast forward about 7 or 8 years to a couple of months ago. I'm at an open mic in the Bronx with my buddy. In walks Ken Burger* and he sets up his recording device behind me for when he does his thing at the mic. He says hello to my friend and then goes to sit at the table in front of ours. He turned around to look at me. I felt myself in defense mode. He did some creepy face, a grin and a nod type thing. I know my face looked like, "What the fuck is wrong with you?" I sat on the urge to blurt, "What? Say what ya gotta say like a grown man. Don't be making faces at me."Breathe, Mindy. Start on the exhale. Think of your material for the mic. But my mind wandered to my ex-husband who didn't understand how comedy guy's ex-wife's family hadn't hurt him. Mindy, that is part of comedy guy's sickness. He gets people to want to do physical damage to him. Don't feed into it.He and I were the only ones at the open mic there to do comedy. The others were mainly musicians. He went up earlier than I. Later, when I was called up, he was still there. Typically he leaves after he's done. I didn't look at him. I did my thing, and for an open mic, I did okay."What amazes me about him is he has no shame," I told my buddy on our ride home. "He says hello to you like he never did anything wrong. He sets up his recorder behind me like he sees no problem being near me. Then he goes behind you and turns around and gives me a weird face and nods. I'd be so embarrassed if I were him to even look at me.""Shit, me too."
*Ken Burger is a fictional name.
Tuesday, August 5, 2014My then-husband and I negotiated and agreed he would just call comedy guy. I told him that if comedy guy gets his phone number, that could be problems down the road as I no longer could assume decency. He said he would call from a pay phone. I felt much better about that more thought-out response than what might be more viscerally satisfying. The behavior amongst some on the website sometimes seemed to show me how the killing in the Middle East could go on endlessly. If no one makes a decision to search for another way, nothing changes. No matter how awful the damage. People dig up their own ugliness and dump it on the other (whoever the 'other' happens to be).One of the things that bothered me on the website was how he portrayed himself so differently than the he that was shown to me. I'm sure his wife got it to a much worse degree. I could tell by his tone when he spoke of her. Her punishment for having once loved him. The judgment of his male peers meant a lot to him. He was okay with women who had an acceptable place in society, a stereotypical slot. "Mother to all" "sweet girl" -- that type of thing that tells me the more complete person inside is going unrecognized, dismissed in a way. When we get categorized that way, guess what category that leaves. Well, if having a sex life involving others makes one a whore, I was too penis-free to fit that category. So he didn't know what to make of a person who is female, not obedient or dumb, not ugly, wanting her divorce, challenging the status quo by simply thinking and breathing, getting the reins back on her life. I probably seemed a lot like his wife.My then-husband called him and firmly said he wanted whatever was going on to stop. When comedy guy tried to speak, then-husband cut him off and told him he didn't want to hear explanations and just wanted it to stop. Comedy guy said, "I'll stop," as if I were the problem. He never said he was sorry for sinking so low or anything like that.When I went on the website, he was gathering his fellas and referring to me as a wimp for getting my husband to call him. The asshole had no clue that this was after bargaining then-husband down to a phonecall from an ass-kicking. Now I wanted to slap his face myself. I was fuming. After all this effort to not take this path, I wanted to leave my handprint on his face. He called me a wimp because my husband still gave a shit to some degree, but he's okay with himself wanting to fight with an older woman. I think that's more 'wimpy' if we are going to use male-centered language and measurement of courage.The universe redirected me. I didn't see him for quite a while. This story could have had a very different outcome.On the website, I could still feel the hostility. On a couple of occasions when I shared with a few people that I was thinking about leaving the site, one man gave me the impression that they were acting that way to eliminate their competition and I should be strong and stay. Another told me it would be awful for a community to lose me and keep those guys (he was referring to a couple of the assholes). Plus for whatever reasons, I thought this was the comedy community. I didn't see clearly yet how much of the comedy community did not bother with that site. Many registered but didn't participate.One of the guys I liked on the site was running an open mic. I wrote him asking if comedy guy attends. He wrote back telling me it would be so much better if we could make peace and just sit on opposite sides of the room. We were so past that option at this point, but this guy didn't know. So I decided to let him know how much I tried for peace and what comedy guy was doing instead. This was a more mature acting man than the others though they were comedy friends. This guy was happily married and generally respectful. He'd never imagine the sides of men that only women get to see. So I shared the comment and asked him if his wife was spoken to that way, would he think she should make peace when he didn't even apologize. I told him that comedy guy thinks I got my husband on him when it was the exact opposite; I basically kept my husband off of him. This man read the comment (which was letter-size) and wrote back saying that after certain lines are crossed, there may be no going back. I appreciated his earnestness. I even told him that after the wimp remarks, I wondered if I should've let my husband do whatever he wanted. This man said that as long as there was no imminent danger, he would advise against violence. I told him that was my goal, but no guarantees.It was obvious to me that he confronted comedy guy about the depths he sunk to. Comedy guy's remarks on the website were now references to technology and how someone is always watching and there's always evidence. So he was only sorry he couldn't deny it to his fellas. He wasn't sorry to me for being so horrible. One of his asshole friends who he adored read the comment and told me he didn't want to judge because he didn't know what happened before like maybe I pushed his child down a flight of stairs. Okaaaay, this is when their dick-bond was causing serious blindness. After all, pushing toddlers down steps is my favorite pastime -- Lord help us. And of course when an adult pushes your child down a flight of stairs, don't call the police or anything -- just wait a few days and write her about her hygiene on social media. These are college graduates, by the way. So I, who didn't find an adolescent boy's picture something to laugh at, prefer to get my kicks by pushing two-year-olds down steps.So at this point, my husband spoke to him intimidatingly, I revealed what he thought no one would see and he was shamed among his dudes, but he was still indirectly expressing things to me, so I knew it was still simmering (whatever the 'it' was that was making him so hostile toward me).On the website, he actually credited some man for never booking him. He wrote, "At least you knew I was an asshole." That is how guilty he felt for screwing things up with me and how unable he was to apologize in any real way that he credited someone for never booking him, indirectly blaming me for the crime of being a comedy friend. That was the moment I told myself, "Mindy, that's what happens when you treat someone well who doesn't like himself. You have got to learn this, girlfriend, or it will keep happening. Look at how it looks, feel how it feels, and don't forget. There's no shortage of people like this."My best friend was amazed at what comedy guy wrote about himself and admitted he felt sorry for comedy guy. I said I did too, but I had to figure out what my plan would be because I knew it wasn't over. It was suppressed. He knew there were no secret rooms for his insanity. I was hanging it out for others to see. I was not taking on the shame. This definitely wasn't going the way abusive people need it to.Having been a parent and done some reading for different ideas on handling problems, one of the things I learned that can be helpful with a misbehaving child is to catch them being good and give him/her attention for it. The point being everyone needs and seeks out attention. If one doesn't get it for good things, they will do bad to get it. This makes sense to me. I know that everything alive (including plants) screams for attention in their own ways. Still trying to think of how I might approach it if I were a dean in a JHS, I decided I would wait until I could say something positive about him that would be genuine. I knew this could take a while. If it wasn't going to be genuine, there'd be no point.Given his typical behavior, I didn't know if there would be such a moment. I also didn't know if I'd be able to stay on the track toward a peaceful resolution. My then-husband asked me about the situation and when he heard about the wimp remarks, he was all set to go find him. I shared the conversation my best friend and I had (see part four). I made him promise me that he'd hold on until I can do what I hoped to be able to do first, and then if that made no impact, well then I'd let him handle it man-style. It is less time-consuming and can be efficient for the short-term. I was concerned more about the long-term and about what felt right to me. Peace is truly a road less traveled, so I had to figure shit out along the way. My then-husband had no patience for the high road, but somewhere in him he valued my approach. He raised his eyebrows, sighed, and said, "You will have really good karma."...to be continued...
Tuesday, July 29, 2014My then-husband and I were not on great terms, so talking to him about other problems was uncomfortable. I really couldn't trust him in ways. I didn't feel him as a friend. If he'd been a real friend, well everything would have been different.Not happy with myself for screaming instead of speaking, I sent the comedy guy an email apologizing for screaming. I clearly expressed that I was not sorry for what I said, but that I would have preferred speaking in a way that it could be better heard. I had a strong feeling that he preferred a fighting relationship since he needed a target for his shit, but I sure wasn't looking for that. He was separated while I wasn't yet separated, so if fighting were what I wanted, I could've spent the day with my then-husband.Disappointed but not at all surprised, comedy guy did not acknowledge my email. He wanted a fight. I was still lost as to what the fight was about. The drama was within him and not really between us. All I could do now was cut my losses and keep my distance. To me (given I was born into loss), these things are always sad. Another broken connection in the web of humanity. I knew I hadn't done anything to this man other than extend friendship. If that was my biggest error with him, my conscience was clear. I was accepting that this was how it was for whatever reasons. Sometimes the why is apparent in later years.In the days following, the young woman who participated in the website we were all still connected through had a bad day and asked for hugs. I watched as all comedy guy's "buddies" lined up their comments of support and affection under her post. Comedy guy didn't. I didn't. I wanted to see what would happen. To my knowledge, nothing did. I do not believe any of those guys were suddenly mistreated or dumped as friends by comedy guy for "supporting Annie." I do not believe they were given the impression they needed comedy guy's approval to show support to whoever they chose to support. My best fantasy at that point would have been comedy guy seeing what was happening, what he was doing, and telling me how wrong and unfair he had been to me and apologizing from his heart because he was truly regretful and it showing in his actions. Well folks, that's why it's called a fantasy.There were hostilities expressed indirectly on the website. Usually he'd be in conversation with his boys and make references that were at me. Most of the time I ignored it. Several of the comics were running open mic's. I always had a limited schedule (due to motherhood and jobs) so I treasured my little bit of free time. I steered clear of any open mic's where I thought he attended. But he managed to rally his boys against me on line at that website in ways. Being older than they and not in that lifestyle of picking on people, I typically ignored them. Every so often, I'd say something. It rarely came to any good. Many of them were pre-set in their head to attack. It got so insane that I was once verbally pounced on for not thinking someone's childhood photo was ugly by the very guy whose photo it was. Given how I feel inside on most days, it was shocking to me that any adult would feel so threatened by my lack of an insult that he'd have to tell me the "whole comedy community" agrees with him. I'm a mother. What kind of mother would sit and laugh at and mock how a boy looked in his adolescence? Not this one. To them, it was in the context of humor, and if it was okay with them, fine. I didn't criticize that they were mocking the photo. I just offered a different view of the photo. That has always been my crime and my gift -- a different view.I often wonder if Americans really want freedom. So many get so angry at anything different, whether it be those who are differently abled, another race, way of dressing, religion, sexuality, gender, or way of thinking. So much goes against the struggle to just be who one is. If people let each other be, life would still be full of challenges -- hurricanes, disease, hunger, deaths of loved ones, etc. We have the choice to not make it harder.To add to the circus, a problematic person, who I'll call Joan, joined the website and seemed to thrive on the conflict and connect with the negativity quite a bit. She often added fuel to the fire. I only interacted with her in positive ways. She (and many of the others) interpreted that as friendship, but I wouldn't go that far. Just because I'm not in enemy-ship with someone, doesn't mean we are friends. There's a whole lot of space in-between called sharing a world. I am not friends or enemies with any of the people who live in my building. No one has my phone number, we don't all speak English, yet we hold the door for one another, and when we had a fire in the building and I didn't have my cell phone, a neighbor handed me his to make a call. Joan stood out because she was female and older than any of us, but her behavior wasn't better or worse than many of the people there. It was simply less accepted. However, Joan was very bright and interesting, and she had something to offer. I would respond to her when it was something positive that I could hook into. Others got angry and told me I was "encouraging" her. We probably weren't even using the language the same. I wasn't encouraging her to act like an unruly boy. I am an encouraging person when I see something that deserves a pat on the back. She once shared a list of famous people who struggled with emotional disturbance and/or some form of mental illness. Abraham Lincoln, Patty Duke, and many, many others were among them. I appreciated that list so much. For so long if someone appeared to have a mental illness, that was all they were seen as -- their illness. Yet someone could be diabetic and not be described as a diabetic as if that was all they were. It is so long overdue to see whole people with all their struggles and strengths and strength to function with their struggles.At some point, I wrote the comedy guy (I might have the chronology confused and it might have been in the same email that I apologized for screaming -- not sure) and asked for him to agree to not be friends without being enemies. Again, I was expecting adult behavior and still didn't fully digest that he was not capable of that at that time. I offered that both our lives were hard enough without us going out of our way to make it harder. I told him we are in some of the same circles since we live in the same borough and are aspiring comics, so we will most likely run into each other from time to time and I'd like for us to not make things worse.I wasn't holding my breath, but I did want to give peace a shot. I had to know I did what I could to bring this to a better place, at least not to a worse place. As you intelligent readers might have guessed, he did not grab onto a chance for peace.What he actually did do was something I would never have predicted. I was blind to the depths of his problems. Maybe I was projecting, but I thought there was some decency in him.I went on the website (that was another tie that I needed to break from and eventually did but not at this point in the story). There on my blog space was a post from comedy guy telling me that I can sleep with Joan if I want. This made what my then-husband said come back to me. Why was comedy guy having another sexual issue with me? First it was a problem that I talked about oral sex in my act, and then he says I can sleep with Joan? I started seeing that my then-husband was right. Friends don't toss me in bed with people just because I treat them like they are human. If I were to be romantically involved with a woman, it wouldn't be her. My friends would know that. My friends also knew me enough to know that if I were to get romantically involved with a man, it wouldn't be with him. Anyway, the post got worse and was like time travel to the cruelty of junior high school. Without quoting his 12-year-old language, I'll just say he spoke on my hygiene. My jaw dropped that this was where he was at -- like "eeewwww, girls."I predicted this time that he might have deleted this hideous comment after writing it (he needs a diary with a lock and key for his self-explorations), so before clicking anything, I copied and pasted it. I had a feeling I might need it for a small claims court case if this didn't stop. Employers Google job applicants. He had a child. I had a child. He really wasn't thinking. Well not like an adult anyway. The stuff he said reveals more about him than about me, but a 12-year-old doesn't know that.It turned out he did delete it after posting it, but for whatever technological reason, I was always able to see the posted comment once before it showed itself as deleted. It even now happens with Facebook. I see the comment in the email notification even if when I go to the site, it has been deleted by the writer. Since he was way more computer savvy than I, I assumed he knew I could see it and wanted me to see it. I could be mistaken about that part, but still, just to know what he wanted to say, what he thought, ugh.My then-husband was home when I read it, and he saw my jaw drop. I shared what the comedy guy wrote. My then-husband was fuming. To him, it was all very apparent. Comedy guy was angry because I didn't fuck him. My head was spinning."What? We don't have that kind of relationship. Plus he knows you and I are still in the apartment together, and I'm not looking for yet another romantic relationship. And I don't fuck my friends. He and I went to comedy open mic's together. That was it. Oh, he once paid for my slice of pizza. What did I miss? We don't kiss each other hello or anything like that. I'm not interested in him that way. Why would I fuck him?""I know. I know you're not interested." He fumed some more and then said he was going to kick his ass.I can't say it didn't feel good that he'd want to on my behalf, but I didn't want that result. Well most of the time, I didn't. I told him I didn't want that. I told him this whole thing was crazy. He insisted. It looked to me, as the conversation continued, that this wasn't really on my behalf. What I wanted was barely being heard. I began to feel more and more this was a man-to-man thing and I was the object. It felt bad.I knew comedy guy was creating a situation that could easily end up in violence. I was confused why he'd do that. Then again, much of his material was about getting himself hurt one way or another. I even wondered if he thought this would make good comedy material. I felt used like an object for material. That felt bad.I showed the comment to a few people. One man showed his ugliness under the guise of caring about me. He said that comedy guy wasn't a man and should be passed around in a jail cell for cigarettes. I was horrified. That acquaintanceship didn't last long, thank goodness.All along I felt that comedy guy was more of an enemy to himself than anyone. No, I had and have no wish for such an idiot to be repeatedly raped. That is not a cure for anything.My best friend is a human being. He's also a male. We talked at length about this whole thing. He knew I wanted a peaceful ending if possible. He was astonished at what comedy guy wrote to me. He said he'd never write that to anyone even if it were true (and he knew the hygiene stuff had no basis in my case). I was full of questions. He really tried to help me understand. He explained that no matter how accomplished or intelligent many men may be, when it comes to male/female stuff, many men never made it past junior high school emotionally. They are stupid boys who want the girls but fear the girls and can't admit it and push the girls away and then are angry that the girls don't want them and are just crazy. Then the scowling would make sense if he thought my looking nice was an attack on him in some way. Memories of junior high school were horrible. Staying on track though, I was trying to get in the head of someone behaving like he did. (Training in acting also helped because you have to analyze why a character would say what they say and do what they do, so you can convincingly portray that character.) So I had him at about 12 years old in 7th grade. Then I wondered who was I in his head (besides one of the trillions of females on Earth that he didn't get to fuck). I didn't care to be 12 again. Hurt too much. I figured he must see me more as older and "classy" since I wasn't amused at his belching in a man's face. Maybe even an authority figure (not that I wanted to be for anyone other than myself and my son). So I thought if I were a JHS principal and this boy showed the problems he shows, how would I view it? How would I be able to help turn the tide here without making things worse?...to be continued...
Tuesday, July 22, 2014
When leaving a Bronx open mic show one night, I was three bus rides from home. This guy was there. When he offered me a ride along with another comic he'd be taking home, I figured I was getting dropped off first, so I agreed. I did wonder though if the three buses (and waiting for each one at night in my Bronx)
would be safer. It was a tough call. But the third person in the car made me feel like things would remain somewhat sane. He fuckin' took that guy home first. I objected. They explained why it made sense, geographically speaking, to do it this way. Ugh.
My memory is fuzzy on the chronology of things. I know at some point during a crazy and heated conversation, I asked him what he thinks he's mad at me for. He looked up the way a kid does when searching for an excuse, and said, "You support Annie.*" That was a young confused person I basically only knew through the website we all participated in. What he called 'support' was basically not verbally abusing her. But yeah, according to his bullshit, that was my 'crime.' Maybe this was just what I needed, I don't know. I screamed for the next fifteen to twenty minutes (however long the drive was). I screamed my head off at him for everything he pissed me off about. I would have liked to have been at the point of just laughing at his ridiculousness, calmly reminding him that he doesn't get to make those choices for anyone other than himself, suggest he look inside himself as to why he thinks he should have a say in that, and that be that. But I screamed for twenty minutes.
I wouldn't think it my place to tell another adult who they can or cannot speak to; that is just amazing to me that people feel that right.In a strange way, it seemed like he was more comfortable with my outrage than with the day I had booked him for an event. It may have felt more like 'home' as he knew it. We are all bound to different degrees to our formative years.
I went upstairs upset. I told my then-husband that I just had a fight with Ken Burger.*
"Over what?""That's a good question," I said. "He claimed it is because I talk to Annie. It doesn't make any sense."
"Why does Ken Burger care who you talk to? ...unless there are other feelings involved."...to be continued...
*Annie and Ken Burger are fictional names.
Tuesday, July 15, 2014
I am taking a break from the telling of the crazy soap opera.
The most helpful comments I received were from two men who are older than me. One wrote me wanting me to feel assured that I don't owe anybody anything. The other passionately agreed with the first one.There are so many basic things I've existed without, that those comments felt like huge healing hugs. It reminds me of something a student once told me. He said, "Where you see holes, you put flowers." I felt like where these two men saw wounds, they put medicine.*This is my 100th entry here.
Monday, July 7, 2014
At some point after my comedy debut, I was co-hosting an event (poetry mainly, but open to comedy) and was given the honor of booking one of the performers. I offered him the spot. He wasn't the only one I knew, but I did it as a comedy friend and I knew he could be funny. On our way there, it was a little stressful since I had run late. He was driving. I forgot to bring the exact address though I pretty much knew where it was. I could feel his general anger. He didn't talk about being nervous or any of that. I even asked him if he was nervous, but he claimed he wasn't. So I figured he was well prepared. Thankfully, we found parking.As we walked on a Manhattan block, he belched loudly with his mouth wide open and didn't make any effort to cover his mouth at all though it went
right in the direction of an older man's face. He didn't then cover his mouth afterwards either, and he didn't say excuse me to the man. That was what amazed me. He's not an adolescent. He's a grown man and a parent. He didn't even say "Excuse me, I'm sorry." Instead, he turned to me angrily and said, "Not cool, right?" I realize how much I've grown since then. I didn't yet know then how to say, "Don't make this about me." Sometimes I feel I am just getting things that some have at 17 years old. I was so startled by his behavior. I sensed his rage and saw he was leaning toward putting it out in my direction. I did nothing to deserve his shit. I couldn't quite believe we were on our way to a show where I booked him. I hadn't yet learned deeply enough what happens when you like people who don't like themselves. My marriage was a big kick in the head of this lesson, and this guy was one of the layers of sealant that followed. He angrily repeated, "Not very cool, right?" I said, "I don't think in terms of cool." He searched and said, "Not classy, right?" "I wouldn't call that classy," I admitted. While belching loud in someone's face is not a desirable happening, not saying excuse me is what I found more offensive. And his need for and seeking out my disapproval made me uncomfortable and concerned.
My then-husband was also a man who didn't own himself or understand when his shit was going on me.
When the guy took the stage, his energy was low, and he didn't look at the audience for a while. He looked down and sounded depressed and unprepared, and I thought I'll never do that again. I thought that he fucked this up for himself and possibly for me too. I was trusted to book someone, and he turned this whole thing into a negative experience. That day was the turning point in our pal-ship. I don't think he was conscious of all that, but I was. He behaved better with people who were less nice than I. I was getting tired of this pattern in my life.
I didn't see him much after that, but we read each other on line in a community of stand-ups. One day I blogged about comics from an audience view. I'd been an audience member much longer than a stand-up. I felt a huge gap between members of the aspiring stand-up community and the audience, especially the female customers. I thought the blog could bridge some of the gap. As a teacher, I get to read comments from the students on how they felt about the class. I love getting to read the feedback. Companies hire focus groups to hear what potential customers think of their products. So it didn't even occur to me then that any aspiring comic would not want to hear how the audience might hear them. (I've since learned.) I received mostly very positive comments on that blog from the aspiring comics. He wrote me a nasty comment. Much of it didn't make sense, but I guess it did give a window into what may have been bothering him. One of the things he accused me of was that I speak in my comedy of liking oral sex. (No, he's not 12.)I was so puzzled and taken aback. I thought, he is younger than me, and he thinks women shouldn't enjoy sex? That it should be a thing tolerated by a dutiful wife? He didn't say all that, but he implied it. Did he miss the Sixties? I didn't get what was the problem with liking something. What was he saying about men's abilities -- that they only expect and want to be tolerated and not enjoyed? Then I thought that maybe he thinks I don't approve of talking about sex? But then I went and did it, so that would be hypocritical? How can he think that I don't approve of talking about any part of our human existence? Being open is one of my main assets. Then I realized that many juvenile types don't seem to get the difference between talking about sex and calling someone you experienced sexual pleasure with degrading names for having had sex with you. I couldn't believe he was so angry with me and was surprised by how juvenile he was. I wasn't calling anyone names -- not even calling assholes "assholes." He seemed angry that I spoke on the degree of misogyny I felt thrust into when I entered the stand-up arena. Whose purpose does it serve not to speak on it? I came from social work and teaching, and suddenly I was poultry.
Beneath his undesirable behavior, I guess I saw a hurt boy. His childhood was not loving and protective enough. My childhood had pretty big challenges as well. Neither of us escaped damage. The difference at this point was, I wasn't making him pay for mine. He already seemed to have a slot for me in his mind even though it wasn't who I was.I figured my blog and my comedy and who I actually am bothered him. It hurt because I had been so tolerant of many shitty things about him. I took the weight for his weed. I never tried to make him feel bad about being too childish to claim his own fucking weed. This story is the first time I am publicly mentioning it but not with anyone's identity. The more he spoke of his wife, the more I saw what he was all about. He'd say shit like, "I never called her a liar." I'd think, she probably isn't one. So his defense to lying to his wife was that he didn't call her a liar. I frankly didn't know how she was able to tolerate him for as long as she did. It seemed she spoke to him directly about what she felt some of the problems were. He didn't seem capable of addressing things in that fashion. He made fun, usually with his tone of voice, of whatever she said. He would tell me, expecting me to agree with him about how awful she was. But I didn't see her as awful at all. I was happy for her that she was saving her own life. She had a little girl, she worked full time, and her mother helped her. (When I needed help to get out of my situation, I felt I had to wait a long time because I didn't have family who could help me and I couldn't count on my husband to share parenthood. He hadn't shared parenting with his first wife. I was stuck.) After a while, though this guy's wife doesn't know it, I felt more like her friend. She may have been more traditional than I, but she was honest about who she was. I think he didn't even know who he was. But I let him be whoever he was. He did not let me be me without receiving his hostility. That was what felt bad. I had accepted him with all his shit. I can share a planet, a borough, an open mic with many. As long as the person is not my problem, I can be accepting of a wide range of humankind. He had trouble accepting my perception, experience, and views, basically me.So I wrote a comment back to his comment. I wrote that I hadn't meant to upset anyone but must've hit some nerves. I questioned some of his motives. I really didn't get why he'd want the world to remain so hostile to women when he had a daughter. After writing and posting it, I saw he had taken his comment down. But in my comment, I addressed him by name, so it was clear I was responding to his shit. Since the website was a community of mainly men working on their comedy, he cared about how he looked in front of them. And since at that point, they left mainly supportive comments, he probably didn't want to appear as a threatened, backwards, oppressive, little man in front of them. His comment was one written to attack me like I had done something to this man.I don't know what was the turning point for him in terms of his feelings toward me. He had never, up to that point, talked to me directly about any problem between us that merited the kind of hostility he expressed. My suspicion is that during the time I just went to open mic's with him, was depressed and didn't speak a whole lot and mainly listened to his marital woes and comedy advice, he must've decided who I was but not based on who I really am. It was probably based on what he needed me to be. Then when
I hit the stage, he saw who I am. It must've blown him away. I do not join the patriarchy as much as shine light on it and share the tragic funny. So those who can't see how damaging the patriarchy is to women's lives and who thought everything was fine, except for these "bitches" and "hoes" out here, probably get a little uncomfortable at my bringing it to light. He got more than a little uncomfortable apparently, but since at my debut I "killed" according to him, he wouldn't say I wasn't good. He didn't want the image of being a sexist, but people need to embrace who they really are before they can grow. So while attempting to keep up a front of a modern man, his true self was coming out in ugliness all over the place. He had that in common with my then-husband. It's easier to deal with someone who can say, "I must have some shit inside to look at because I do feel bothered by your material and much of what you say though I don't disagree intellectually." I can respect the conflicts people go through inside, especially if they are aware and not taking their shit out on others. But he is very unlikely to reach that level of authentic living. Just writing that sentence is evidence of my growth. I often held out too much hope for a person's best self to come forward. I think I'd project my best self onto them. I have to be more judgmental, especially if they are grown. Many people's accessible best self is not that impressive by the time they are grown anyway.I saw him here and there just because we both were going to open mics. We were also both in a show at a club in Manhattan. People we both were acquainted with were in it too. That may have influenced his behavior. I performed very well at that show as I was very comfortable with the audience, and his natural reaction seemed to be to hug me. It was strange to me as I thought he didn't approve of my views, etc. Like my then-husband, he had a public image to try to keep up. He wouldn't want the others to think he had the hang-ups he had. Yet the hug felt genuine like he wanted to be connected again. At the end of the show, the comics went out to eat; I went straight home to my son. I still at that point wanted to know what was this guy's problem with me. I still felt hurt at his betrayal of what I thought was some degree of friendship.
One night when we spoke a bit at an open mic, I did ask him what was the problem. He didn't seem able to answer. I brought up the angry comment he wrote. He didn't apologize for the hurtful things he wrote. It didn't seem to bother him that his comment was hurtful. That felt so bad to me. My heart is too tender for people like that. He said he took it down because he realized there was nothing wrong with that post. His emphasis on that and his tone in general was as if he were my boss and had the right to disapprove of me. I couldn't believe what I was hearing. He could barely run his own life. Why take on the responsibility for someone else's life when one is plenty to manage. I wondered how this happened -- this shift from equal people to this crap.
I thought he must be missing his wife. They were already separated by this point. It saddened me because I had thought we were going to help each other navigate the stand-up world, share opportunities and stories, be comedy pals. But if he was putting his energy into looking for a moment to pounce on me with rage and feel justified, this was not a relationship where I could grow or even relax. I tolerated a lot of that bossy-toned shit from my husband because I needed to know my son and I would not end up homeless. But my son was not little now, and things were moving along. My freedom was in sight. I didn't want some other troubled person telling me how to behave who didn't even pay my bills. I don't require outside supervision; so far, I haven't belched in people's faces.
And really, would he tell Angelina Jolie's mother what to do?...to be continued... (don't miss the next installment when, after provocation, my then-husband wants to get involved)