Bending Genres: “Being a Woman” by Nancy Stohlman

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BEING A WOMAN

You’re from Denver—you like the cold? You a skier?

Oh, I’m sorry, I’m interrupting you. What are you writing there?

Oh, you’re a writer. What are you writing about? I mean, what do you really want to discover? Oh, by the way, my name is:

So Nancy—can I call you Nancy—everyone comes to the Caribbean and they think they’re Hemingway, but they don’t know that he wrote all that stuff in Paris. I just got back from Paris. You want to know the secret of Paris?

Oh, you’ve been to Paris. Well then you know, see, Parisians aren’t rude, you just have to relate to them. Instead of saying, “Where’s the Eiffel Tower?” you say, “perdon, jparl un per du francois”.

You were married to a French man?

Hey, sorry, I’ve had 2, 3 margaritas too many. You’re trying to work, I should leave you alone. Say, where are you from?

Denver? You ski? Oh, that’s right.

So Nancy, what do you want to do with this writing—you want to get published someday?

Oh, you already are. What, like a children’s book?

A novel? Have I told you how much I love artists—do you mind if I sit down?—oh, sorry, that’s right, you’re working.

A novel, huh? So do you do that full time?

You’re a college professor?

Now see, Nancy, you and I are similar. Did I tell you I just got back from Europe? I come back here and I see all these stupid, uneducated people—I mean I just got back from Prague—and nobody here cares about Prague, I mean they don’t care about being citizens of the world, Nancy—sorry, I didn’t mean to spit, there—I mean I want to know things, I want to connect the dots—Nancy, you know what I’m talking about, you’re an intrepid sort of girl, you’re traveling alone, you want to write, you want to know the world, people like you and me, we—

Oh, I’m sorry, that’s right, you want to write. I’ll let you work.

Sorry, oh no, oh goddamnit, let me grab a napkin. Hey, can I buy you another drink? Are you sure? I’m going to order one more for myself as soon as that idiot bartender notices I’m dry. Hey—otro por favor!

Oh yeah, sorry. Okay, well I’ll leave you to your writing. But one more thing–

No, buddy, excuse me I don’t need any help, okay? Thank you. I’m leaving.

I said was leaving okay?

Leave? Why don’t you leave? This is my island! Who are you—you think you’re some kind of writer or something. You should be the one who leaves.

She should leave. Better yet—why don’t you suck my cock!

Ashamed? No, you should be ashamed of yourself. What because you’re a woman–

Keep your hands off me! What are you, her goons or something?

I said I’m leaving. Nancy, can you hear me? You’re an idiot. This is my island, you hear. Mine.

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Nancy Stohlman’s books include Madam Velvet’s Cabaret of Oddities, The Vixen Scream and Other Bible Stories, The Monster Opera, Searching for Suzi: a flash novel, and Fast Forward: The Mix Tape, a finalist for a 2011 Colorado Book Award. She is the creator and curator of The Fbomb Flash Fiction Reading Series, the creator of FlashNano in November, and the co-founder of Flash Fiction Retreats. Her work was recently anthologized in the WW Norton anthology New Micro: Very Short Stories. She teaches writing at the University of Colorado Boulder. Find out more at http://www.nancystohlman.com.

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