I scraped the metal folding chair along the linoleum floor to plop myself down in the circle. Fifteen eyes (The homeless Santa character across the circle had a glass eye) watched me as I straightened myself up and let out a sigh. This was gonna be tough.
"Kevin," the moderator said with a hideous, bogus smile. "Would you like to begin?"
I closed my eyes. I can't do this! I thought. Run! A voice echoed in the room: "Please?"
I had to do it. Without opening my eyes, I stood up. I couldn't bear to see them laugh, like everyone else. But I had to get it out. I had to come to terms with it.
"Hi," I started. I opened one eye just enough to see their blurry outlines. No one spoke. "My name is Kevin," I said. Still nothing. I closed my eyes tighter.
I inhaled. I winced as if someone had a grip on a nasty splinter in my finger and was about to pull.
"...and I'm the victim..."
Another squinty-eyed peek. Still nothing...
"...of a garden gnome attack..."
Dead silence. I let out a breath. And then?
Applause. The group applauded! After eighteen months of showing up and saying nothing, I'd done it! I'd admitted and expressed my horrible nightmare. I felt the weight of the world lifted off my shoulders.
I sat back down, felt the congratulatory claps on my back, and heard the various words of encouragement like "I hear ya, man," or "we're here for ya brother."
Yes. I was the victim of a horrible garden gnome attack. I can speak about it now because of my Survivors of Garden Gnome Attacks group (SOGGA). I can hold my head up high and say with a clear conscious that there is no shame in being brutally beaten by five, grinning clay and porcelain half-pint hellions. In fact, my survival has become a source of pride.
And I owe it all to one book: "How to Survive a Garden Gnome Attack: Defend Yourself When the Lawn Warriors Strike (And They Will)" by Chuck Sambuchino.
I read this book not too long ago and found it informative, educational, and funny - yes, it has allowed me to laugh at my own experiences in bush-hidden brutality. While I still have trouble viewing the horrific pictures (Thank God Chuck was able to get the film from the poor, presumably dead photographer), and I still wake in the middle of the night with the feel of their cold, hard beards on my shins, and the feel of their razor sharp rakes across my back, I know that thanks to Chuck's book, others may not have to suffer the same fate as me.
So please, do yourself a favor. Get this book. Protect yourself. Or else you may find yourself attending a SOGGA meeting yourself...
...if you're lucky...
Optimism is NOT Arrogance
Arrogance is the belief that you are BETTER than others. Optimism is the belief that you have the same CHANCE as others. We all have the chance to achieve our dreams. Don't ever let anyone tell you differently.
I'm starting a new book today with that as the title. "The Strength To Stand Up. Memoirs of an Unemployed Man." People have...
Great time had at the SCBWI conference on Saturday! And a big hello to my friends from that conference who've hopefully joined us here....