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Attrition

by Mothership on April 23, 2012

Was it something I said?

This week, writing class was down to five of us. The lawyers came, unwilling to miss a potential bunfight, I suppose.  The construction worker who had done his BA in creative writing was there, the tech writer, a young woman who is a full time student, and, of course, me. Mary, Christian Fiction lady had sent a message saying she had childcare problems, but the remainder of the class had simply not shown up. I wondered aloud if it was due to the nice weather, unusually hot for this time of year in San Francisco, but the tech writer volunteered that, in his experience, the rate of attrition in adult education was very high, and we could expect that at least half the class would disappear by the end, although they did not all usually go so quickly.

I was interested to hear this. Not only that this was a common phenomenon, but that he had taken so many classes and, in fact, was a serial taker-of-adult-education classes and freely admitted that these were in lieu of a social life. This declaration left me momentarily speechless so I busied myself opening a packet of biscuits ( I had volunteered to bring the snack this week) and I quickly thrust them under his nose, urging him to take one so that I didn’t have to deal with the unbearable emotional weight of this statement.

I enjoyed this week’s class almost as much as last week, although it was less gratifying in terms of opportunities to show off. I was struggling slightly with a headache as Husband and I had thrown a dinner party the night before. We don’t do this nearly often enough. It had been part of my grand vision of life in SF that I would be forever holding fabulous parties with scintillating company, but it turned out that actually we didn’t quite get around to doing that. In fact many weekends were spent asking the other what plans he/she had made, and then, as we had each failed to make any, we somewhat resentfully did nothing in particular. Now, however, with the summer and the end of our lease swiftly approaching, I feel anxious about my (potential) home-based social life closing down again so I arranged to invite people over without exactly consulting Husband. I feel this style of social arrangement works best. In theory he is open to having people over, and actually likes it when they are here, but if you try to organise something with him, he always wants to put it off into an unspecified point in the future in case it might clash with some work that he ought to be doing (which is actually all the time and permanently late) so nothing ever happens. I’ve decided to override that, with the caveat that he is welcome not to attend the party, and the understanding that he’s really not going to do much in the way of the cooking even if he sort of means to. He is, however, very good about cleaning up afterwards and is a welcoming and convivial host. We were nine to dinner in all, including a single man and woman who had each contacted us separately asking if we knew someone to set them up with. I don’t often have single friends for whom I might have a suitable match so this was rather thrilling for everyone and gave Husband the opportunity to write a seating plan in order to throw the potential lovebirds together. Husband loves anything that can be worked out with a diagram, preferring it vastly to a conversation involving what people might actually be feeling at any given time. He dislikes too many variables in an experiment,  and emotional content, being non-rational and generally unquantifiable is far too messy for him to become involved with. I often wonder, given that, why he married me, of all people.   At any rate, the single people seemed to get along very nicely, the dinner was a great success, people ate and drank with gusto, the wine, laughter and conversation flowed, and it was well after midnight when they all gradually peeled off and went home. In England you’re probably thinking

“After midnight? So what?”

But here in sleepy California, that is the nocturnal equivalent of 3am or later since we all go to bed at 9.30 and get up at 6 to do exercises or have-a-nice-days.

I did sleep in until the almost unheard of hour of 8.30 but then had to minister to the hungry children and attend to the important task of  reading the New York Times, in which I was delighted to note the designer Alice Temperly had name-checked my lovely friend Liberty London Girl (I wonder if she’s seen that?).

I printed out my class homework, which I then carefully left at home (I restrained myself from telling the teacher that the dog had eaten it), and went off to class with my champagne headache. We learned about the difference between flat and rounded characters this week. I felt that I was probably one of the former myself, given my rare hangover, but I think I understood the lesson and shall attempt to put it into action for next week’s class. If I keep on going, perhaps by the end of the course it will be just me and the teacher left.

 

 

{ 2 comments }

1 nappyvalleygirl April 24, 2012 at 5:00 am

I think the rate of attrition for most activities in America is quite high actually. Whenever the boys start a new class, at least half the kids don’t show up after the first couple of weeks – whereas I make them persevere with it in a very British way, even if they have colds or staples in their head.

In any case, well done for perservering with it – it sounds interesting and I am quite jealous. By the way, I still have another 15 months here, so we may yet meet – although maybe it will be in London!

2 Tamsin Hickson April 24, 2012 at 12:06 pm

I wish you could send some of that American attitude over to Italy. I teach English to people who (unlike your classmate – being Italian – would never admit to it being in lieu of a social life) are still unable to distinguish between one pronoun and another yet insist after eight years on continuing to attend my classes. I’ve tried everything – loading them with homework, changing lesson to days when I know they have other commitments (life in small town Italy permits us these intimacies) to no avail. Just me and one talented student would suit me much better!

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