Jack Canfield, of Chicken Soup for the Soul et al. fame, has a syndicated column and lots of books bearing his name. I don't. He's been on Oprah. I haven't. But I've got a story to tell, and he's in it.
Before The Chicken Soup Empire
When I first met Jack Canfield, he was....Jack Canfield. Not the Jack Canfield who would become the Shaman of Sentimentality. Not yet, that is.
We were in graduate school together. It was a great time to be on a campus, what with Happenings and Sit ins and Teach Ins. Possibilities for personal change and hopes for a more highly evolved society coated most of us with molecules of optimism.
We could change the world.
The School of Education, where I was getting my masters degree, held a week long series of workshops during spring vacation. No one went to Cancun or Florida. No one I knew, that is.
Nope. The idea of an Education Marathon where we could learn new things about each other, ourselves, creative problem solving for racism, sexism, specism, and other isms I’ve since blocked out was pretty heady stuff. Values clarification. Sensitivity Training. Gestalt psychology. Rolfing. Meditation. Wait. I’m having a incense sense memory just writing this. Do I hear a sitar?
Anyway, there was a whole lot of frolicking going on. People would take each other for ‘blind walks’, hurl themselves backwards into large groups of people expecting to be cradled, and reveal things publicly that might have been better left unsaid in a roomful of strangers. We were seriously into Trust Building.
Hugging was encouraged. People looked into each other’s eyes a lot. Deeply looked. Eye locks could make some people swoon, if I remember correctly. Jack, I have to say, was one of the most attractive of the available men. And of course, sensitive. Warm. Amusing. He used to lead sessions in an acronym called TORI. For the life of me, I can’t remember what it stood for...something like Trust Openly, Relish Instinct. No. That’s not right. But whatever it was, it sounded good at the time.
I was smitten.
I was friendly with a woman in his apartment building and at some point during a break he said, “Well, if you’re going to the movies with Charlotte, come over after. I’m right across the hall. ”
This article is not meant to be a slanderous tale or expose of a guy who has gone on to do very nicely for himself. Instead, it’s just one of my more embarrassing moments in a social life that has included some gems.
Back to That Night
Omigod, I was invited to go over Jack’s place. Maybe he’s actually interested in me. Maybe this, maybe that. Maybe, maybe, maybe.
After the movies I told Charlotte that if she could just point me in the right direction once we got back to her building, I was going to stop in on Jack. He’d told me to drop by.
“Yeah. How about that.”
“Maybe, maybe, maybe......”
When in doubt, bring cookies. That’s my motto. I made a batch of my Crackle Top Spice Cookies. Quite super, if I do say so.
My semi naive heart was beating entirely too fast. I had no opening line. But I rang the bell. A couple of times. I heard muffled flapping noises, a slamming drawer.
“Who is it?” But it wasn’t Jack’s voice. It was his roommate Terry who opened the door. Both of us seemed quite surprised to see each other. Terry had an odd rattled look on his face and a peculiar grin.
“Hey. Terry. Jack told me to drop by after I....”
“He did? That’s strange.”
I stuck my chin out. “Why is that strange?”
“Oh, nothing. I just got home a couple of minutes ago and found....nevermind. Hey! Jack! Beverly’s here!”
“Yup. Come on out.”
Needless to say, when Jack emerged from the other room he was in general dishabille. No shirt. He was followed by a petite, gorgeous young woman I recognized from a class. She was wearing his shirt. Nothing else. I believe I noticed a rashy flush around their respective necks, although that perception could have been caused by the reddish glow seeping from my embarrassed eyeballs.
I could see her naked tush.
What does one say under such circumstances?
What would you have said?
My brain seemed to be clunking like a dice cup.
I said the only thing I could.
“Anyone want a cookie?”
I held out the plate. They each took one. A thoughtful crunching sound filled the Space of Embarrassment in which I was standing.
“Well. I’ll just being going thought I would drop by since I was next door and these were with me so I brought them in case but it’s late and I only meant to say hi and see you around campus sometime and, I’ll just leave these cookies, which is why I came, so g’night.”
I’m backing out all a burble, as Terry runs to the door so I don’t thud into that, which certainly would have caused breakage of all sorts. He walked me to the parking lot and told me that five minutes earlier he’d walked in on them in the living room. Guess I was lucky.
I had enough sense to squoosh out a chortle by the time I got to my car. And say aloud that question we so often ask ourselves, “What was I thinking?”
An artist friend of mine, after I told her the whole sorry ass story, crafted a cartoon of two people bumping under the covers with limbs askew and sticking out every which way. Then Ashley drew me, in the Indian gauze shirt I had been wearing, standing at the foot of the bed, bearing a huge tray of pastries. Caption: Cookies, anyone?
I sent it to Jack. He said it made him laugh.
These cookies have been called Humiliation Cookies ever since then. They are very good. If you want the recipeClick Here.
I write this because I just stumbled into a web site that advertises 8 fun filled days with Jack Canfield. For $1,750 US, you can learn 75 exercises designed to enrich your life. It’s in Palm Springs. Figure in another grand for staying at the Westin. He promises increased self esteem. And that you will come away feeling lovable and capable. Tempted? Chicken Soup Workshop.