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[Prose Poem] At the Mansplainers Anonymous Meeting by Jamie Brisick

Updated: Oct 11, 2023

At the Mansplainers Anonymous Meeting

By Jamie Brisick At the Mansplainers Anonymous meeting we were given a maximum of twenty-five words to express our feelings Exceed twenty-five and you were put on coffee duty By the end of the meeting you’d have a circle of empty folding chairs And a bunch of men huddled around the coffee pot Arguing over how to make the perfect pot of coffee. At the Mansplainers Anonymous meeting we went into extra innings Overtime Penalty kicks They’d begin on a Thursday at 5pm And still not be finished the following Monday. At the Mansplainers Anonymous meeting we refused to call it MA We didn’t believe in acronyms We had an affinity for the multisyllabic Though we were working on that. At the Mansplainers Anonymous meeting we debated intermittent fasting versus time-restricted feeding, Netflix versus Hulu. At the Mansplainers Anonymous meeting we talked about Van Nuys Chad said he had a blowout on the 101 over there in Van Nuys Bruce said, “In Van Nuys, you can just say, ‘I had a blowout on the 101 in Van Nuys,’ you don’t need the ‘over there,’ the ‘over there’ is kind of hurtful to Van Nuys, don’t you think?” Chad argued that there are places where things happen ‘in’ and there are places where things happen ‘over there in,’ and Van Nuys was an ‘over there in,’ especially considering he was driving a ‘67 El Camino, and that while they were fixing his tire he went around the corner to a topless bar called the Candy Cat where he met a girl named Licorice who he exchanged numbers with and was hoping to see on the weekend “So in the context of the larger story, if you’d have just let me finish, you’d see that ‘over there in Van Nuys’ is much better than just ‘in Van Nuys’” “What’d we say about ‘let me finish’?” said Bruce “Oh shit,” said Chad The room laughed. There were many things you were not allowed to say at a Mansplainers Anonymous meeting. One of them was “let me finish.” At the Mansplainers Anonymous meeting we were encouraged to sit in on other twelve-step meetings So on a Wednesday evening at 6pm I found myself tucked into the Calabasas High School gymnasium with my brethren over there at Name Droppers Anonymous They were a lot like us, and nothing like us A redheaded Gen Zer shared how she’d dated ___________, and while dating him she’d met ______________, who introduced her to ______________, and now she’s having a show at his art gallery. Her show features photographs of famous people dining around LA, but inspired by the program, she doesn’t feature the actual famous people, but rather the aftermath of their meals. For example, she said, the caption might read “__________ and _________, Giorgio Baldi, October 9, 2015,” but the photo just shows a couple of pomodoro-smeared plates and the four empty martini glasses from _________, who we now know via testimony from ______________ was a heavy drinker, despite his handsome looks and excellent performances, most recently alongside _________________ in Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood. At the Mansplainers Anonymous meeting, Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, votive candles, a key chain, a dog-eared copy of Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit. At the Mansplainers Anonymous meeting Actually, after the Mansplainers Anonymous meeting I brought the fellas out to my car The engine pinged when driving up steep hills, and it had been burning through oil like there was no tomorrow This was at the North Hollywood meeting Filled to the gills (as the expression goes) with washed-up actors and stuck screenwriters Parked in the adjacent Gelson’s lot, hood up, there was at first about fifteen of us But then something beautiful happened More men started showing up, dozens weighing in on what might be the culprit Bad spark plugs, worn out piston rings, maybe the transmission It was like a tailgate party, but with everyone gathered around the hood. And while a tailgate party involves many cars, this was just one, my 2003 Mercedes G-wagon, and what by the end of the night must have been a good hundred-and-fifty of us.

BIO: Jamie Brisick’s books include Dazzling Blue: Short Nonfiction, Becoming Westerly: Surf Champion Peter Drouyn’s Transformation into Westerly Windina, We Approach Our Martinis With Such High Expectations, Have Board, Will Travel: The Definitive History of Surf, Skate, and Snow, and The Eighties at Echo Beach. His writings have appeared in The New Yorker, The Surfer’s Journal, and The New York Times. In 2008 he was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship. He lives in Los Angeles.


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