My colleague asked me to fill in for her at a local middle school to do a writing workshop for twenty-five 7th graders. I knew the class was all girls and that my buddy, Cedric, was doing a workshop with all the boys. What I didn't know was that they established a classroom for creating young ladies, and when I arrived, a girl asked me, "Excuse me, but what does a man know about being a lady. Where's Marcelle?'
That was the first five seconds.
The girls were loud and full of middle school drama. I only had an hour and I wanted to establish a routine quickly. We practiced a call so that they knew when they needed to listen to me. "Hey, Ladies," I'd yell, and they'd respond, "Get Funky." I'd then shout, "Say what?" and they'd snap their fingers twice, clap their hands twice, then point to themselves shouting, "Diva."
The teachers said they were going to steal this call and response from me because they've never seen the girls so focused on anything for so long.
The problem with such karma, however, is that it took all the energy I could muster to sustain one hour of their attention. I don't know how anyone worked with the beautiful abilities of Patty Labelle and Aretha Franklin for so long. I had a room full of divas in training, and man, although I needed part of the instruction to be about me, it definitely was mostly about them.