The Pyrenees---Southern France

The Pyrenees---Southern France

Monday, February 20, 2012

Picking Up Men, One Frumped-Up T-Shirt At a Time

      I know everyone has missed my bloggial presence (not!). I was in Santa Barbara--left on Wednesday afternoon and got back late last night--and although I missed my blog friends, I thoroughly enjoyed the west coast weather.

photo by Michael Stidham

       As a teacher consultant for the National Writing Project, I was part of a group working with the SB art museum. Like most museums, they are not the most welcoming when it comes to people of color and people who are not part of society's uppercrust. Lots of people are intimidated by art museums. Even more people allow art to make them feel stupid. We were there to help the staff find ways to embrace the community in a more inclusive way.

      At one point, we were on the sidewalk in front of the museum writing in journals. I was wearing a T-shirt from a creative writing camp. An elderly man (in his 70's? 80's?) came up and started a conversation with me when my "beacon" of a shirt reeled him in.

     He said, "I think you might be interested in this," and then pulled a page--one that he had been saving--out of his satchel. It was from a book on writing, and had some interesting thoughts.

     Since a copyright of 1949 was noted, I voiced my assumption that the book was out of print. When Russell confirmed that was correct, I wrote down my name and address and asked if he would send me a copy of the page. (He refused the dollar I tried to force on him to cover the cost of the printing and postage.) We had an extended conversation about writing--he had always wanted to be one, but had never taken the leap--in any way. 

      As soon as Russell left, one of my colleagues came up and teasingly said, "Did you make a new friend?" I teased back, "Yes, a man thinks I'm hot, but it's only ones in their 80's who think that."

      The next day a couple of us went up into a church tower; a native of Santa Barbara had tipped us off...the view was spectatular. While we were up there, basking in the beauty, a woman approached me. (I was wearing a writing shirt--a different one. I am civilized enough to change my clothes daily when I travel.) Her son--who was with her--wanted to be a writer, and I advised him to find or form a writing critique group.  

       Writers are beacons.  They're lighthouses. If you wear a shirt or button or hat that proclaims you're an author, a writer, others are drawn to you. Everyone has a story to tell. And even though they might not have taken the time or had the courage to act on it yet, they're drawn like moths to a flame to those who do.

      Russell said he has several penpals. He even pulled an unopened letter from one out of his bottomless satchel. How will I respond if he sends a letter to accompany the book's page?

      Write, Russell.  And if you want a penpal, there's always Lynn Obermoeller.  



  1. Dang! Those T-shirts are like stink-bait for catfish!

    I think you should keep a journal of all contacts people make with you while you're wearing your writing T-shirts. Then you can make a book of their experiences, like On Writing in T-Shirts. The book cover can even be a little T-shirt. And your travel would be tax-deductible, because it's work-related for the book you're writing.

  2. Hi Sioux,
    I'd been wondering why you hadn't been blogging. Your trip sounds fantastic.
    And I think Val's suggestion is brilliant!

  3. WOW, that Val Gal is RIGHT ON! Her book idea is awesome! And it would be great if you took along your camera and got photos of the folks who would allow it. Most might like the idea of appearing in a book!!
    Great post, Sioux, and I'd been missing you, Donna!

  4. P.S. I LOVE the last line: "Write, Russell. And if you want a penpal, there's always Lynn Obermoeller." LOL

  5. Val--I really hope you don't expect a percentage when I take that idea of yours and run with it. Because you won't get one cent. None of the piles of cash I will make. It's going to be mine...all mine.

    Donna--The trip WAS marvelous. And I agree. Val is a crafty one.

    Becky--I love the photo component. (I figure Lynn needs a gross or two of penpals, since she is such a prolific letter writer, along with being a prolific writer of fiction...

  6. We have kampground tee's. I wore mine in Minnesota and not one potential kamper approached me. I even made the grandchildren wear them and we were at Mall of America. We were hard to miss, a big crowd of loud people in day-glo Kan-Do Kampground Tee's. We were beacons, we were!! And not one approach!. Maybe it was your stellar personality. But, I like Val's idea. And I think you should give her a small percentage for it.

  7. Kathy--Stellar personality? Kathy, you must serve hot toddies (and you are sampling them FREQUENTLY as you're mixing them up) at the Kampground...

    You didn't make any new friends because they could sense the slave-labor going on. Forcing grandchildren to serve as free advertising is cruel and unusual punishment. Please send me your phone number and address so I can report you to GACC (Grammies Against Child Cruelty).This will result in your cookie-making license being revoked immediately.

    And a percentage for Val, who does nothing but come up with hoot-worthy posts in her spare time? If you are feeling that generous, offer her extra s'mores when you kamps at your kampground...

  8. Oops. Apparently I was so aghast and spitting mad, I made a typo. Kathy, when VAL kamps at your kampground, she should get extra s'mores...

  9. Your new book, "A T a Day With Sioux", will be a best seller.

  10. Linda--As long as I don't include a picture of Sioux in a T...

  11. How lovely, Sioux. It's the welcoming souls that bring people in to the fold. EVERYone has the creative spark in them. Not everyone can let it out -- or feel safe in doing so.


  12. Now Linda gets a cut for the title!

  13. Hey Sioux, thanks for the... ummm, what's the word I want to use? Well, that last line cracked me up, but I will write him if he writes me! Ha.

  14. What a great trip. And who knew writer t-shirts can actually be employed to pick up men?!


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