Monday, May 24, 2010

Don't Ask, Don't Tell

Usually I refrain from offering the information I am a writer, and recommend this practice to all writers. "English Teacher" is so nicely cut and dried. But walking on the wild side this week I said "Writer" to a shoe salesman who said he's been in the same business since 1954. He asked what I wrote. My mom chimes in, "Oh she just wrote a book on St. Louis writers," pegging me as a local in a place rather far from St. Louis. Shoe salesman begins recalling many trips to St. Louis to Brown Shoe and International Shoe headquarters, 15th and Washington streets. I tell him that area has changed, is mostly loft dwellings now. "I'm a poet and an essayist," I added rather desperately. "She just won a poetry prize," my mother chimed in. "Yeah. This poetry stuff," I joked, "is really paying off," and I escaped with my new sandals, however sheepishly and lamely. Next time: English teacher.


  1. Ah, but Catherine, you should wear your labels proudly, whether they are sewn into your shoes, stitched to the inside collar of your blouses or etched on your psyche, not to mention inscribed on your diplomas, awards, and printed on the cover of your books! You are a writer/poet. Congratulations on your book. Be as proud of yourself as your mom is of you. Why do we do this to ourselves? I am the same way.

  2. It is always so awkward when someone says, "Oh! What books have you written?" (at least you have some!) or, "Tell me one of your poems!" (expecting a rhymey little ditty). I appreciate what Linda says, and I'm proud of what I've done among my peers, but out in that larger world, I'm an English teacher too.

  3. Well it beats what I said when someone asked me what I did. I said, "Nothing." I have decided not to use that one any more and have gotten brave enough to say, "I'm a writer."