Posts Tagged ‘manuscript’

Conference Tongue

Friday, March 19th, 2010

on writing, sex, writers conferences
The very first thing of the very first morning at the very beginning of the twelve-day writer’s conference, I was waiting outside the dining hall to take an initial tour of the campus lead by some young post-graduates who possessed minimal tour guide skills.

My reader, the professionally published writer-teacher guy who would be reviewing my manuscript and conferencing with me, came up out of a crowd of people, and introduced himself—later, from co-conference-goers more experienced than I in such matters, said this was out of the ordinary, your reader approaching you—and because of this they looked at me as though I was someone of potential special interest.

He introduced himself to me. “Mr. Roberts? I believe you are one of my victims.” Then mumbled, “I never remember titles and names”–then remembered me and mine. He asked if I had really, truly selected him to be my one and only favorite reader over all the fourteen other prominent teacher-writers available. I indicated I had, tactically avoiding saying he was my second choice, really. He said, “I want to know because I apply the scalpel differently to those who have specifically chosen me compared to those who have not.” I then definitely allowed him to believe he was my first, best choice…after all I wanted to get my full money’s worth.

He asked me what I was most worried about with my manuscript.
“…I am not confident of its shape…?”

We began walking on this tour, taking up the rear, chatting. He thought that I needed to rethink the material more as a straightforward memoir, just as a possible alternative.
He was intense, focused, sardonic.

He confided that he wasn’t too sure of the value of this conference, or any writing conference, although he was there for the third year. “There are four levels this works at,” he told me. One: socializing: drinks, receptions, parties. Two: business contacts, literary agents, editors, visiting publishers. Three: physical favors with the opposite sex. Four: writing. With so few hours dedicated to actual writing discussions, he seemed pessimistic about any in-depth fixing of writing. And there were a 144 of us 12-day students. He led me to believe, without stating it too obviously, that it would be up to me to reverse the order. Writing first, sex second, etc….

“I’m going to cut off here because this tour isn’t going anywhere.” He turned, noticed a woman passing, a student. Made a remark to her: “Where you staying?”
“In the French dorm.”
“You’re lucky.” He eagle-eyed her. “And why don’t you invite me there?”
She smiled and shrugged and kept walking. He watched her as she moved away, then turned to me.
“Is that number three on your list?” I asked.
He smiled and cut off.

* * *

I had to wait till mid-way through the conference to get my chance at some of that “physical favor with the opposite sex” stuff which was supposedly so rampant at these conferences. It was to be from an auditor. That is someone who sits in on classes but cannot participate. Like a groupie, like an auditor, like a hanger on. Kathleen was her name: a wanton healthcare professional, I was to find, with whom I had spoken now and then during the first week.

One evening, at a mini-celebration halfway through the conference, she told me she had three favorite people at the conference, and that I was at the top of her list.
She was already pretty drunk when she said this.
I said, Ah.

Just like that she placed her hand flat against my chest, and alarmed my delicate artistic sensibilities by suggesting, “Blow jobs and the clitoris. We could do that.” I tried to think of a witty retort to this, but nothing in my background or social skills had prepared me for this type of provocative suggestion.
“Yes,” I murmured, “we could.”

Now for eight days it had been hot and muggy and sticky and for these eight days I had grown plenty horny so what-the-heck I tried a kiss on for size, just to sort of get the lay of the land, check if my testicles would tingle as our tongues probed and partied.

I was anticipating, even hoping for slightly parted plump lips, and gradually to work our separate ways to a more sophisticated tongue tango. What I got was the romantic equivalent of the Grand Canyon.

She placed her upper lip somewhere just below my nostrils. I believe she hooked her lower lip under my chin.

Startled, and not a little concerned, I nevertheless tossed my tongue in there to see what would happen. No slick, moist porpoise of a tongue rose to meet mine in order to frolic and splash. My tongue hung in the dark, in the void, alone, like a diving board over the deep end of an empty swimming pool.

I made a valid effort, and waggled my tongue in the generosity of her whole-hearted though unskilled desire. I believe I licked a couple of molars.

It was at that moment that my testicles realized that they would be retaining their testosterone burden for another sticky night.