The Snubbing

I’m still deeply saddened by it. So very saddened. This evening after a long day of sightseeing and a little shopping–minor shopping (listen, there are only so many panels a human can absorb) my girlfriend and I (let’s call her Missy) sat down at the hotel restaurant to get drinks and dinner, but mostly drinks. After a glass of wine and some beer, my thesis chair and former professor entered the restaurant. She was with some of her friends–I’m assuming from grad school, undergrad, and/or academia. Of course, the hostess seated her group directly behind Missy and I. As she entered, Missy said, “TC is here.” I got excited because I love and respect her and so desperately want her to kind of like me (I thought she did, but after another incident which will become a post I’m confident that she doesn’t think highly of me).

“Oh my God, she’s sitting right behind us.”

At first I thought she was sitting like a table or two away from us, but no, she was directly behind us. She was close enough to touch. And so I did, a light tap on the shoulder and waved hello. She smiled and that was it. No “hey, how’s the conference treating you?” or “did you do any sightseeing today?” NOTHING. Nah. Da. Zilch.

So of course during the rest of dinner and drinks Missy and I couldn’t help but wonder why TC was being so cold. We could hear laughter and happiness from her table. Another professor from our graduate program was also in attendance at the conference, but not dinner  we are confident would not have been so cold. This professor would have suggested the groups join together and enjoy each other’s company, but Professor Nice and Friendly wasn’t around to unite us.

I figured she was probably trying to be professional, show a distance between her students and herself. The thing is, both Missy and I have graduated. Would you be so cold to former students? I think not. While, I probably wouldn’t willingly sit down and have a meal with any of my current students, I do think, the students that I’ve mentored and have close relationships would likely be candidates to break bread with. So whatever, she didn’t want to eat with us, or really talk, big deal. Heartbreaking and kind of upsetting because she’s pretty awesome, but whatever, I get it, you’re at a conference and you don’t want to chat it up with your students, you’d rather shoot the shit with your grad school pals. WHATEVER.

This is not the snubbing I’m referring to.

As the meal began to wind down, Missy and I were offered another drink. TC’s table was finishing up. They got up.

Missy looked up.

“She’s leaving.”

“Oh, is she coming over?”

“No, her back is to us She’s leaving.”

“What?” I was surprised. “She’s not coming over to say good-bye?”

“Nope, there she goes out the door.”

“I can’t believe it.” I was stunned, not even a see you later?

“Yep.” I watched Missy wave in TC’s direction.

“Oh is she waving?”

“No, she looked over here and I thought she was going to wave, but she didn’t.”

“Isn’t that rude?” I thought back to the etiquette lessons forced upon me by my mother. That kind of behavior was not becoming of a lady.

“Yes, it’s also quite bitchy.”

“Yes, it is bitchy.”

We may have uttered the word bitch a few times–look we’d been drinking.

But, I can’t help but think that what happened, the Snubbing, was well–bitchy. It was right? I mean at least wave for crying out loud.

And so this evening has been such an awakening. I mean, Jesus. I feel completely confused and deeply saddened. The entire time I was working on my thesis, I thought my TC and I had a bond. I didn’t think we’d ever be BFF’s, but I did think we had developed a relationship. A kind of mentor-mentored relationship. I learned this weekend that this most definitely not the case.

So, I’m pretty upset and am trying to listen to FH’s advice and think “who cares?” but I just can’t. I mean, it kind of hurts when someone you look up so clearly demonstrates a behavior as cold as this.

Still, I’m wondering if maybe it’s the AWP atmosphere (don’t worry I’ll explain in another post–a lot to write about this year). There is a kind of vibe at the conference and I’m noticing it more this year that the last time I attended. This vibe is like pseudo-intellectual-snobbyish. It’s a kind of wear-your-sunglasses-indoors-beret-wearing-Urban-Outfitters vibe that is so horrible. I hate it. Maybe she just got caught up in it, and in the meantime shattered my little admiring heart.

It was rude though, right?

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8 comments

  1. You know, though I’ve yet to start my MFA (still waiting on responses, with one acceptance to lead it off, so I can say that I WILL start somewhere), I had an experience recently that makes me understand what you were describing. It left me quite unsettled, in fact, and I feel for you:

    While an old, old friend was visiting the large West Coast city in which I currently reside, she dropping in from a state in the South for a conference of sorts, I was able to briefly attend a cocktail party thrown by (Purdue?). My dear friend, normally a marvelously down-to-earth, intelligent person full of alternative wit, was transformed into Hawk Mode. I looked around saw a room full of people, some of whom I’d already met briefly, and I got the profound sense that all their conversational circles were closed tight. This was greatly disconcerting: I derailed a potential career in Hollywood because such snobbery was unbearable for me, and yet it seemed just as potent here. I’m hoping that the MFA program itself is treating you better, that you can enjoy unadulterated writing time?

    All the best, and thanks for the post,
    Eric

    1. Well, first off congratulations on the acceptance. I’ve graduated and so far I am finding time to write a bit challenging, but isn’t it always? I have to say, if living in Hollywood would mean lifetime of being snubbed, count me out. It happened two days ago and I’m still pissed about it. Thanks for the comment!

  2. Hey, OMMFA—

    I think we graduated from the same program since we have a friend in common (WL). I’m pretty sure I know your thesis chair (also, I saw said person at AWP). Try not to take offense at her actions—it isn’t attitude directed at you personally, she is a very reserved and private person who places a distinct fence between her private and professional life. We realized on the first day we met that one of my closest friends went to grad school with her—that put up some immediate defensive boards. You can send me an email if you want to chat more. Hope you had a good time at the conference.

    JG

    1. I know my TC is a super private person. I think this is also why she is such a talented writer. I think MIssy and I were more surprised she barely said a word to us when we were right behind her. Expect an email shortly.

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