Summer 2001.

Fuck Community

by Mary Panza

Fuck community. I mean that. I am going to tell you why. Dynamics always get in the way. In case you don't understand what I mean, think about when you were a kid and playing house or whatever you played. It required someone being in charge, someone following along - and then there was the kid who said, "This sucks."

With that said, let me tell you my story. If you read my tribute to Bette Davis a few months back you kind of get an idea of my mistrust of women friends. For those of you who did read it: Thank you. Anyway, I put myself in a situation that I swore I would never be in again: A CLASSROOM. Not just a classroom but a classroom of 27 women (and about 5 men). All of whom are very nice and I like for the most part. Once the honeymoon ended however, I began to get flashbacks to all of my class experiences. (Disclaimer: Not high school experiences. Those were spent cutting classes, pouting and bitching about how no guys like me because I was fat, eating, going to Bud Hill parties and trying to be Eurotrash.) These flashbacks are the ones going all the way back to St. Joseph's in South Troy, and that very inviting SUNY Albany. Groups are a little bit scary to me because after the affection wears off the fangs come out. I always wait to see who bears them first. If you are not with me so far: wait. Let me break it down and make myself clear.

The Leader.

If you are lucky (and for the most part I have been), you have never been The Leader. Who needs it I say? I have been lucky enough to be in communities where The Leader is someone who knows what they are doing, has the vision, articulates the vision, gets the job done and still keeps the friendships. You risk that when you are The Leader. In the classroom, one would hope, it would be the teacher/instructor. In the group it is the person that gets everyone to chip in and get the teacher a present for his/her birthday. Simple? No fucking way, everyone with a Napoleon complex wants this stupid job. I reiterate: who needs it?

Napoleon/The Revolutionary.

These are the people who didn't read the rulebook but signed the agreement anyway. Alternative learning has a handbook. Broken down it states that you will treat others nice. Raise your hand when you have a question, don't interrupt, stay awake during class, show up on time, use "I feel" statements (remember this is alternative learning) and in general don't be a pain in the ass. Forget it. All these people know is how to be a pain in the ass. Their mothers or fathers didn't love them enough, any attention is good attention or my ideas could change everything around here. Fuck you. I paid in full, up front, to be here and I FEEL you should shut the fuck up and put all of your complaints in writing. Oh that's right - if you write them down everyone can't hear how clever you are and all of your great ideas. Please, I beg of your doctors, MAKE THEM TAKE THEIR MEDS. These are the hyper kids in your class that bitch about how everything is unfair and in reality, wouldn't know unfair if it were wiping their ass. The Napoleon complex, I FEEL, from my unbelievably long career in the wonderful world in bartending, was the really short guy, with too much cologne, too much jewelry, a girlfriend with too much height and too much hair that comes in and thinks he can buy you with a three dollar tip ("Hey, take good care of us and there will be something in it for you at the end." Believe me three dollars is being generous.) who always picks the fight with the biggest, nicest guy in the place. He is the "You lookin at my girlfriend?" guy. In the classroom of alternative learning it is the "And why can't I sit on the windowsill and snap my gum/This is such bullshit!" person. Don't get me wrong I am all for anarchy and revolution. It brings about change, sometimes good, sometimes bad. Revolutionaries don't know anything but being a pain in the ass. They lack the smarts to sit quietly and think. Everything is about them and their need to be taller. As you can guess, they are my least favorite part of community.

The Pet.

I am proud to say that I have never been anyone's favorite. I remember all the class pets and how much I hated them. Even as a miserable child I remember the things I hated the most: my father, when Lebeau's ran out of glazed donuts, a mooch, a liar, and a successful asskisser, who almost always was the teacher's pet. I FEEL that they should all be middle management.

Shecky Greene.

The guy/girl with a million of 'em. I fall into this category sometimes. The beauty of being older and having gone through so much therapy, the thing I learned is to pick my moments. I FEEL I know when something is funny and if I am not interrupted by the Revolutionary sometimes the class knows I am there. I know when to quit. I need to pay attention sometimes. The down side to this is not everyone thinks you are funny. What the fuck do they know anyway?


I need to mention that I am studying to be in the health care field. Yes they consider massage health care. Look it up if you don't believe me. In this line of work folks tend to take good feedback and let it go to their heads. From day one they say, don't diagnose and don't offer a cure. Fine by me. I can see it happening. "I will lay my magic hands on you and you will be cured" or "In my last life I was a Shaman/Medicine man and it breaks through in this life." Please. I wanted to work for myself in an environment that is one on one with another human being, not a group of them. I want to pay my taxes, collect tips, and perhaps I can offer a person an hour or so, once or twice a month that they don't dread. I am no healer. I am a nice girl from South Troy looking for a better way. Jesus had too much responsibility. Shamans/Medicine men? Let me tell you what my "past life" was according to a psychic. She told me that I was an Italian peasant that was kidnapped and taken somewhere cold and forced to marry a man that was light skinned and that is why my feet are always cold. Whatever! Usually, they tell you that you were royalty or something. Well, you would think for fifty dollars that I could have been a bar wench in a palace.

Well, that is where I am at now. It is scary being in school; it is scary for me to be in a group. It is scary being Shecky Greene. What is more scary, I FEEL, is not being here. Go on, hurry or you will miss the bus.

MARY PANZA is, in fact, Shecky Greene.