A very long time ago, when I was just finishing my first year of college, my creative writing teacher wrangled me a scholarship to a writer's conference.
I was seventeen, had never been away from home alone, and rode boldly on the bus down to Sarasota in a euphoria of anticipation--only to find myself trapped for four harrowing days in the company of the strangest bunch of people I have ever met.
Take for example, the man who would not dream. Maintained he never dreamed. Didn't want to. Couldn't understand why other people did. Couldn't understand why "everybody [kept] trying to make" him. Wished we would all just leave him alone. I did.
Or the vignette artist, whose prolific works ranged from a paragraph to a page-and-a-half in length. In each unrelated sketch, some unspeakable act of humiliation or mutilation took place. A bevy of admirers surrounded him at the cocktail parties. I tried never to let him get between me and the door.
There were others, each more alarming than the last. Thank God, I said to myself. Thank God my roommate is normal. . . .