Friday, September 17, 2010

Twists in the Conversation

"History shapes generations and generations shape history." That's a line I've borrowed from Strauss and Howe and used many times standing before leaders who are desperate to cross the generational barriers they often see rising up in their organizations.

My massage therapy class is no different. This week I started singing "I'm a little bit country . . ." and my generational cohort completed the line a la Marie Osmond (pre-Dancing with the Stars and Nutrisystem commercials) and one of our younger brethren in the class said, "I remember that. They did it on South Park."

Next up was talk of movies like X-Men and Mystique's body paint compared to the gold paint of Goldfinger. More of the youthful brigade had joined us and acknowledged that while they hadn't see the 007 flick, they knew the reference because of Goldmember in Austin Powers.

And so it goes, seems that history also shapes parody. My youth is being recycled.

So I'm glad to have my cohort in the classroom. T is an incredible artist via knitting, embroidery and some things that one does with needles that I'm not too familiar with but look beautiful! She's smart, witty, and savvy on events past and present so that we have shared more than one look of "been there, done that" when classroom conversations have taken any number of the twists and turns.

That's why when she asked to speak to me -- and had a rather serious tone in her voice -- I quickly wrapped up what I was doing to see what she wanted.

"Do you go straight?" she queried.

Now, I've been very up front about who I am and what I do with various non-profits, political organizations, and my friends. While my instructor has labeled me a liberal and playfully gives me grief on a regular basis, T has struck me as a woman who takes things as they come, doesn't jump to judgement and while possibly disagreeing with someone, doesn't feel the need to preach or lambast them for the differences. So I was somewhat shocked that she went from conversations that had primarily been about pop culture, good web reads, family life, and cooking shows to what my sexual orientation is.

"Uh, what?" I asked in return.

"Do you go straight?" she said again. But the repetition was a tad bit slower since it was obvious that I was confused.

I didn't want to be defensive and yet, I still couldn't believe we were having this conversation in the hallway.

"Straight? Yes, I'm straight," I said while also ensuring that I didn't indicate I thought there was anything wrong with the alternative. At least, I hoped I was doing that. Mostly I had a very confused look on my face. So I added, "Are you asking me if I am straight?"

"No!" she declared emphatically and also gave Seinfield's now famous "not that there's anything wrong with that" look before she really slowed down to say, "Do you GHOST WRITE?"

"Why, yes, yes on both counts. What do you need?"

Lessons learned this week: Massage and laughter are both great stress relievers.

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