I was once at a conference
Outside of Boston
After taking a crop duster plane
In a serious strong wind
That blew the plane all over the place.
The noise inside the cabin
Temporarily damaged my hearing
Leaving me dazed and deaf
To the ways of the people I was about to meet.
We spent the first day getting to know each other,
Touchy-feeling kind of games,
Ball tosses, trust falls, alligator rivers,
That night, over beers,
Two of the guys bragged of strip clubs,
Getting liquored up, and extracurricular affairs
That did not include their wives.
I started to tell a joke that started,
“These two old country boys,”
Which my new mates from the conference
Immediately shut down as inappropriate
And the kind of joke that would have crossed their lines
Had we gotten to the punchline,
“Sunday, Monday, Tues…”
My radar had been off,
Thinking these two pretty much scoundrels,
Appreciators of stereotypical jocularity,
Purveyors of familial incongruity,
But evidently, I was the louse.
Confusion reigns as I try to figure folks out,
I’m never quite sure where I fit,
Playing the part of an outsider is always the safest
Because I’m fairly sure it’s best to be untethered
So I can just float away
When I get too disoriented.
Those two dudes from that convention went their way,
I caught the crop duster back to Philly
Full of the kind of knowledge those kinds of workshops instill.
In forty-eight hours we had met, been responsible for physical safety,
Heard stories of infidelity, and established a fuzzy boundary for humor.
Unfortunately, when those moments repeat I’m left confused,
With a hand on a carabiner ready to let go
So I can stay in the quiet confines of what I know,
Uncertainty, inaccurate perceptions, and a selfish desire to not give a fuck.
Someday I’ll get there.
Someday I’ll understand my place.