The person with the most control over that place (besides me, since I’m a grown up and in control of my own emotions…ish), is a professor of mine from college. He’s gay, so this isn’t that type of story. He is highly reminiscent of Corky Sinclair from Waiting for Guffman, both in manner and in choreographic stylings. “How can Corky Sinclair have a terrifying and Svengali-like control over someone?”, you might ask. Obviously you’ve never seen Waiting for Guffman, or you wouldn’t have to ask dumb, but literarily astute questions.
Corky was brutal at times, parsing out compliments like gruel at Oliver Twist’s orphanage. I desperately craved his approval. He rarely gave it to me. The majority of my classmates got mostly praise with a little of his arsenic sprinkled in, but I was not the only person who got a full arsenic martini on the regular. One friend at a costume fitting was asked if he’d gotten fatter since modeling the previous outfit. Another was told that her tuberculosis wasn’t acute enough to earn anything higher than a C in her Chekov scene (meanwhile, she was all but coughing up blood onstage). His go-to was to go fully limp in a chair, as though your question had stunned his nervous system with its stupidity.
A certain amount of criticism is healthy at all levels of learning. But there was a cruelty behind it that felt more like bullying than educating.Now, Corky eventually helped me get my first three professional jobs. We came to a certain level of understanding and mutual respect. I think he is a ninja of messing with people’s minds and a sharp shooter when he sees a lofty dream in the sky. But I am grateful for what I learned from him and for the credits on my resume.
I bring Corky up because I thought I was past all of my anger and fear towards him. I’ve lived a whole lifetime since I couldn’t master a grapevine to the left (and now I can grapevine in any direction required and perform complicated box step routines). But at my new job, there’s a partner who reminds me a lot of Corky. He is demanding and sharp and curt. But none of the things he says bother me as much as the fact that when he says them, it’s like I flash back to that time in college where a man held the fate of the next four years of my life in his hands and used it to make paper dolls with perfect little hats. I hate that being snapped at still bothers me so much, especially considering that the subject matter of said snaps are usually potato chips, restaurant reservations or the availability of sugar cubes. I wish I could let that roll off my back. Regardless, I’m really glad it’s Friday. I’ll think about all that Monday, at work. I can stand it then. After all, Monday is another day.