Ben Miller in Literary Hub:
One Thursday night in 1980—that interminable presidential election year now melted into the slippery coin of Reagan’s Shangri-La moment—a Clinton, Iowa, public school teacher drove 41 miles south to the larger river city of Davenport to attend a meeting of Writers’ Studio, the local club for aspiring (and expiring) literary practitioners. He knew nobody seated at the folding table that spanned the jump-ball circle in the rented gym of a defunct Catholic school. Technically he was not late: we regular attendees were criminally early. I, spinsterish 16-year-old male in a Hawaiian shirt, quivered along with my peer group of genuine elders. The stranger wore a V-neck sweater, slacks and loafers, a meditative gaze and thin laconic grin. It always startled us to be found.
Most first-timers suffered under the weight of an aesthetic. Either they had been evicted from another group—Wordsmith’s, Pen Women—or swept out of the bungalow of a fed-up aunt. To us these exiles lugged their trilogy concepts, claims to inborn talent, their influences. Rimbaud! Fletcher Knebel! They careened toward a too-little place at the pad-strewn table, exchanging glances with the uncurling tentacles of our trepidation.
Not this one. This writer specimen paused a respectful distance from our tight circle. Upright, no apparent literary leanings, he stated: “I’m Beenk.”
“Blink!?” yelped cigarette-flicking Blanche Redman, hard of hearing. “Gene B-E-E-N-K. I saw the meeting notice in the paper.”
More here. [Thanks to J. M. Tyree.]