I have signed up for another creative writing class on Wednesday nights. It is different in quite a few ways from the class I have on Mondays.
Mondays is all girls... single, independent, bright, funny girls.
Wednesdays is all boys... married (except for John), independent, bright, funny (apart from John) boys. The class is more advanced, in so much as the boys have all been writing for years and have also been in writing classes with my teacher, for years. They all know each other and have quite a few "in" jokes, which is already annoying. They seem to be very good writers as far as I can tell. All of them except John.
Channa, Jason and Tom are in their early 40's. They are middle class (even though it's very hard to tell these days), seem well educated and are genuinely very interesting. Tom is a little smug. I think he knows he's the best writer in the group. Before each writing exercise, he looks around at each of us, clears his throat to make sure we are all alert and begins to read. He makes eye contact often, probably looking for admiring glances. My teacher flirts with him so I know he's good. John, however, is older. He is about 75 and Irish. He was in the Met police for 35 years and is bitter and twisted and hates the world. He looked at my breasts for the whole 3 hours of class and constantly clears his throat in a disgusting guttural way. He coughs frequently, sucks his teeth and mumbles. When he's writing, he suddenly starts talking out loud which is very off-putting when you are trying to write yourself. He is a misogynist, is tedious and is not a good writer. He interrupts constantly and asks inane questions. It's fair to say... I dislike him. I don't dislike many people but everything about this man rubs me the wrong way.
My teacher, it is clear, dislikes him too but she is professional and rises above it. A few times last night, I caught her doing an internal eye roll. Without any encouragement or comment from me, she sent me an email this morning that simply said, "Underneath it all, John is rather sweet." She knows. She sees. The other boys don't see it. They are boys. They do not get irritated by the same things (apart from my Father, who is irritated by pretty much everyone and everything... ha, ha, sorry Pops). I have inherited the "being annoyed by people" gene but try, on a daily basis, to ignore it. If someone yawns with their mouth open or coughs in my face on the tube, I simply tut loudly and turn the other cheek... or move! Yet I cannot move in my writing class. I'm stuck. He is there.. ever present, making noises and ogling. It might just be a problem.