I had this one class—fiction workshop—all girls, male teacher. The first day, I looked around the room and thought, Holy shit, so much estrogen. It must have taken a lot of bad karma from a past life to be the only guy in that room.
So we went through the course, almost everyone submitting pieces about love and lust and how much it sucked to be a teenage girl, even though we’d all left our teens several years prior. Everything was carefully composed, a good mix of elegance and zing, but it was only a matter of time before the recurring themes got us in trouble.
One night, we workshopped a story about a high school virgin. Towards the middle, the narrator remembers a time she went further than she wanted with a boy in the baseball bleachers. She goes home feeling cheated, hating herself, and projects the anger on her mom.
One classmate said she didn’t get it. Why was the narrator so upset? The rest of the class tried to explain it to her gently. Vaguely. Politely. The classmate insisted she’d never talk to her mother that way, and why would the girl feel cheated? None of the tactful dances around the point got through, so I, the resident mute, finally blurted across the table, “She blew him.”
The room exploded with voices. Disagreement split the class in half and left the mortified author with her face buried in her arms. Nine girls rabbled over and across each other in a steady crescendo until the teacher threw down his copy of the story and proclaimed, “I knew this would be terrifying!”
He smiled immediately after, a charming attempt to lighten the mood, but all I could think was, Damn, what a trooper. Get that man a drink.