Little known fact: I’m a fairly good actress; and many years ago, I was seeking a career on stage.
To most actors, few roads get to “the stage;” and most of the time, those roads lead through New York City or a reputable MFA program. I had been accepted to a national audition process where over a hundred grad schools were converging in New York for students to audition. Two birds… one stone.
“I’m sending your daddy,” my mother said succinctly.
I was offended. “Ma,” I said in a moment of feeling my grown-ness, “I’m 21 years old, I’m a senior in college, and I’ve been to New York three times in the last four years.”
“I’m sending. Your. Daddy,” she repeated. I knew better than to argue with Antoinette. She was sending her husband to New York with their youngest daughter. There was no discussion.
I walked away from the conversation upset. I was old enough to take care of myself.
My father and I arrived in New York only to discover that every single event related to this national audition was literally a few feet from the hotel where we were staying. I rolled my eyes at the fact that I was the only person, out of nearly a thousand auditioning, who had a parent with them.
The. Only. Person.
My dad hung back in the waiting room while I went down the hall and auditioned in the conference room of the main event hotel. He blended in so well that many people probably didn’t realize that we were there together.
Full disclosure: I tanked on my first audition. (that’s another story)
But there was a silver lining! There was another audition, later that evening, where all of the interested schools would pile into the main ballroom. The rules: You had two minutes to prove yourself.
And in two minutes, I brought the room to a thunderous applause because, well, I’m a fairly good actress.
And an hour later I found out that 8 MFA programs were soliciting my matriculation into their university…
…they just had to interview me first…
—that I had to attend for consideration…
…for each school that was interested…
…and those interviews were conducted upstairs…
…in the recruiters’ hotel rooms.
I stared at the instructions. So did my dad.
“You want me to come with you?” he asked.
“Yeah,” I replied matter-of-factly. Suddenly, I didn’t want to be grown anymore. I wanted my dad.
Out of the 8 rooms, 5 of the rooms were male recruiters.
Out of the 8 rooms, 6 of them only had seating on the bed.
Out of the 8 rooms, 8 of them were in isolated parts of the building, of this very expensive hotel, with thick walls.
And out of the 8 rooms, my dad was in every single one quipping, “Don’t mind me, I’m just the dad.”
And some of the recruiters would reply to me, “Oh, you brought your dad with you.”
And I noticed…that they were never asking that question.
And out of all 8 rooms, I was safe because Daddy was there.
As he and I walked the hotel hallways together, I couldn’t help but notice something: All of us, these stage aspiring 20 and 21 year old students, were navigating these scheduled, ‘no time constraint’ interviews late at night. All of us were wandering the dimly lit hallways, on multiple floors, hoping for a chance to impress a recruiter.
But they were alone.
And if something bad had happened, because society has taught us that entering such an environment is an act of permission or consent…. people would’ve murmured amongst themselves:
“Why did they even go to the hotel room? Didn’t they know what they were walking into?”
Well…we went because we were told to….
Because we wanted to hear from the recruiters how great we were…
Because we wanted to complete the audition process…
Because we just wanted to get into a good
grad school program…
See how that works?
So you have the audacity to ask the victim:
Why did they go to the hotel room?
Why did they drop their kid off at his house?
Why did they get on the tour bus?
Why were they alone with them in the office?
How about you shut up–
or start asking different people the right questions.
You know I’m right.