You know that odd things happen when Val leaves the homestead. Sometimes even when she doesn't. For years, the assumption has been that Val is a Weirdo Magnet. Seriously. How many of YOU have had a woman follow you through Save A Lot, rubbing your arm, telling you that you are SO PRETTY? Or a man walk up and stuff a wad of money into your hand? Or a diminutive lady reach around your shoulder and push your button while playing slots in Oklahoma? Or a man keep hitting his hand on your butt in a dead-mouse-smelling post office? Or a woman in Walmart insist that your name is Jane (even complaining to the checker), and that you are lying when you say that it's not? Stop me. Before it gets any weirder.
On Saturday, The Pony and I will be going to the All Write Now Writers' Conference in Cape Girardeau. We went last year, and reaped success. I noticed that there were no weirdos attracted to me there. Everyone seemed perfectly normal. Nothing odd happened. We were ALL magnets, right? And no weirdos got in. I'm sure that's it. But over the past few days, I've been wracked with doubt.
WHAT IF I GET TO THAT CONFERENCE, AND LET MY WEIRDO FLAG FLY?
Surely that won't happen...will it? The Pony and I are picking up blog buddy Sioux on the way. Okay, it's not like she'll be standing on the right-of-way with her thumb out. We have an arranged meeting place. Surely Sioux will be Julia Sugarbaker to my Cousin Allison, and tell me if I've got a big ol' bird on my head. Stop me from embarrassing myself. Won't she? Surely Sioux won't be Suzanne to my Julia, and let me twirl and twirl down the runway of life without informing me that my skirt is tucked into my pantyhose. Will she?
Yes, I am hoping not to embarrass myself at the conference. I have signed up for a pitch session with agent Jill Marr, of the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency. That's because she represents humor. Hopefully, she HAS a sense of humor, and doesn't take ol' Val too seriously. After all, our Val is a bit of a country bumpkin. Like Marla Hooch in A League of Their Own. Except Val doesn't have her dad around to warn anybody interested that "my gal ain't so pretty as these girls." But, like Marla Hooch, Val can get the job done. She even has TWO eyebrows. And she reveals nothing.
I'm not really nervous. I'm sure Jill Marr puts her Crocs on one foot at a time, just like I do. Holding onto the china cabinet that houses her grandma's ruby red depression glass dish set. I hope I don't make HER nervous! I daresay she's never faced an 11th grade biology class of 28 students first thing after lunch, reintroducing them to district expectations after they've spent four hours swinging the world by the tail, practicing hands-on career skills that will make their living.
What's the worst that could happen? Can Ms. Jill Marr get me fired? No siree, Bob! Because I don't even have a job! Retirement has made me bold. What can she do, let her eyes glaze over when I start my pitch? Let me tell YOU, Ms. Jill Marr, I HAVE faced an 11th grade biology class of 28 students first thing after lunch, AND taught them about the phospholipid bilayer! I HAVE SEEN EYES GLAZED OVER! That does not scare me.
On the flip side, I have had those students eating out of the palm of my hand. Sitting on the edge of their seats. Silently soaking in the knowledge as I poured it out, like 28 thirsty sponges. Transfixed. All eyes (that would be 56) on me, as I elaborated on the intricacies of that phospholipid bilayer, its vital role as the cell's gatekeeper, pointing to each part of the structure I had so painstakingly drawn during my plan time in tri-color dry-erase marker. And at the end, a question! A young lady on the front row, daring to raise her hand for clarification, waiting to be called on, to ask, "Do you color your hair?" Well, Ms. Jill Marr. You may not have 56 eyes, but I'll cut right to the chase. Yes. I color my hair.
I'm actually looking forward to that conference. I think I'll do fine. I'm technically proficient enough, I'm valedictorian enough, and doggone it, people tolerate me! And do you know what? I once won 89th Place in the 80th Annual Writer's Digest Writing Competition, Memoir/Personal Essay category!
I'm going places! Weirdo or not.
And under my real name. Kathryn Cureton.