The women were in the kitchen. The men were in the living room. It was a wine tasting party and I was there because I was related to the hostess. Otherwise, I didn’t know these women.
One of these women, an executive at Wal-Mart, was telling the other wives about how she screwed up her husband’s laundry so that he’d give her permission to quit work and stay home with the kids. All the women began talking about their husbands and the problems they had to get them to do one thing or another. They all had tricks to deal with these problems.
And I said, “The problem is that we’re in kitchen talking about them, but they aren’t in the living room talking about us.”
They quieted and looked at me. I took another sip of wine and looked at the countertop. They resumed their conversation as if I hadn’t said anything. I polished off that glass of wine and poured another. I said nothing else.
If you want to take your fiction or your art out into the world these days, you can’t play Salinger. You have to get out and socialize, network, pitch, and be on. Recently I had an artist–someone who makes his living with his art–tell me that when he meets people, he’s playing a role. He’s the artist they want him to be. “Some people want to know they are talking to an artist,” he said.
Do you think this is true? Can you network and socialize with anyone and everyone? In what social situations do you shine and in what situations do you disappear? Or dread? Do you say the right thing, the wrong thing, or nothing at all?