A LESSON FROM THE GARGOYLE

gargoyle_th_002Even after reading just two pages of the Gargoyle, the student-run humor magazine at the University of Michigan, she knew she wanted to be part of it. She sought out the office, knocked on the door, and asked if she could come in. Somebody said, “Why not?” She took it to mean yes. The room held three desks, each with a typewriter on it, and close to a dozen assorted chairs. Open shelves crammed with papers lined the walls. The smell of stale tobacco prevailed. Three boys and two girls were there, talking — no arguing — with each other. From time to time one or the other would drop the end of cigarette he or she had been smoking onto the floor and grind it out with the heel of his or her shoe. Totally ignored, she perched herself on one of the chairs. It was rickety. She lit her own cigarette. She sat. She listened. Sometimes laughed at what she heard. After forty-five minutes, she realized she would be late for her history class if she didn’t leave. She got up. She headed for the door. With her hand on the handle, she said, “Goodbye. Can I come back?” Somebody said, “Why not?” She took it to mean yes. So she returned. There were different faces, different arguments. She listened. Sometimes she laughed at what she heard. When the next issue of the Gargoyle was published, she read it with pride. She knew all of those people. She enjoyed hanging out with them. She came back often. However, when it came time to have the staff picture taken for the annual University yearbook, she was not included. She didn’t even know there was to be a picture until after the fact. She was hurt. She thought she was part of them. She never went back to that office. Epiphanies can occur years later. One day it came to her why she had been excluded: if she wanted to be part of that literary endeavor, she was beholden to write. She had contributed not a word, not a sentence, not a paragraph. It pains her to think she had been so dumb, so utterly clueless. Lesson learned. Life is not a spectator sport. It helps to know the rules before you play the game.

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9 Comments

Filed under Musings, Paula Reuben

9 responses to “A LESSON FROM THE GARGOYLE

  1. jorgekafkazar

    When I was at USC, I often had the feeling that there was something that everybody knew, that no one had told me. This proved to be the case more than once.

    Like

  2. Memories of the fine art of listening.

    Like

  3. Such a small matter to be treated so rudely.

    Like

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