When I first moved into my current apartment, years ago, I called it the salon. I had everyone, near and far, calling it the salon as well. “So how’s the salon?” out-of-state loved ones would ask during phone chats. “When can we stop by the salon?” local acquaintances nagged. People I hardly knew invited themselves over for dinners, drinks, and discussions. When the salon ultimately devolved into a saloon, nobody was less surprised (or more thrilled) than me. It’s fun to be a guest in the salons of others; it’s draining to keep hosting your own.
One of my college professors was just in town for an event hosted in her honor. The event organizers characterized it as a salon – one without snacks or booze.
Every university campus has its stable of star professors, and she was one of ours. One semester I decided to take whatever class she’d be teaching the following semester, and that happened to be a graduate-level seminar. I spent two mornings a week at a table, surrounded by full-fledged adults. It was hard to get a word in edgewise with this older, smarter, more self-assured crowd – so, at first, I never tried. I quietly took notes and listened.
This professor sent me an e-mail, insisting that I needed to speak up. Only, in keeping with her star quality, she phrased it much more poetically; the delivery was something along the lines of: “my dear, why are you depriving me of your voice?”
After reading that e-mail, I started speaking up more, in and out of class. And I’ve barely been able to shut up since.
At her salon the other night, I told her she’s created a monster. “Oh please,” she said, assuming that I was exaggerating. It wasn’t until she later introduced me to a small group of her family members, and I said something that everyone but me considered a little too unrestrained, that she got to see exactly what I meant.