Little Morris’ View Of The World
By Tom Nussbaum
I have no idea who Little Morris was. But I was introduced to him many times throughout my childhood. We met whenever I would naively state my child-like expectations about a new experience or in an unfamiliar situation. Comments like, “I can buy a lot with a whole dollar,” “Politicians must really care about the people because they get so many votes,” “Popular girls will be nice to me even though I don’t play sports,” would draw Little Morris into the conversation.
My father, who was born and raised in Germany and my Swiss mother would respond to my naïve comment with what could loosely be translated from German as “How Little Morris sees the world.” More worldly English-speakers might have said, “Oh, you’re in for a big surprise,” or “That’s not how it works,” or “You’ll see.”
Moving to Mexico in April has reunited me with Little Morris. Many times.
A particularly awkward occasion occurred in May when I attended my first Ajijic Writers Group meeting. I had learned about the group through the Lake Chapala Society. I am a struggling writer and thought this group would be a perfect place for me to improve my skills, receive constructive criticism, and network with other needy would-be authors. I envisioned a group of 6-10 people huddled around a table sipping coffee and critiquing one another’s attempts at creating a New York Times best-seller.
I arrived at La Nueva Posada several minutes before the meeting began and meandered throughout its restaurant searching for the Ajijic Writers Group. The restaurant was rather empty. The few diners there were in pairs, not groups. I was a bit puzzled and disappointed. I wandered outside where I found a lovely patio and garden dining area full of people. “Ah,” I thought, “we’re in Ajijic. Why eat or meet inside when you can do so in the fresh air and sunshine?” Preoccupied, I did not notice the lack of menus or dishes on the tables. I scanned the tables, studying the faces, searching for what appeared to be a group of writers. Although none of them looked like Papa Hemmingway, J.K. Rowling, Marcel Proust, or Willa Cather, one group of four looked like they could be writers.
“Is this the Ajijic Writers Group?” I asked.
“Yes,” a woman said.
Without asking permission, I plopped into an empty chair next to her. “I’m Tom,” I said. “I’m new.” The woman courteously introduced the others at the table to me and then pointed to an empty chair across from me. “We’re waiting for one more to come,” she said.
Another woman arrived a moment later and sat in the empty chair. We were introduced and I expected the meeting would begin. But it didn’t. So, to make small talk, to fill the awkward silence, I asked how many people usually attend these meetings. Our table seemed full, I thought; how many more could comfortably fit?
“Oh, forty, maybe forty five,” the first woman answered.”
I reacted with a jolt. Then it hit me. I turned in my chair and scanned the other tables dotting the patio garden. My head swiveled from side to side studying the faces around me. “All these people are in the Writers Group?” I asked with great embarrassment.
“Yes,” the woman confirmed.
With that, the event facilitator began the meeting. She used a microphone because it was necessary with a crowd that size, a gathering so much larger than I had expected. She made a few announcements and introduced the first writer who read an excerpt of his work. I listened to several others that day. They exhibited various degrees of skill, a variety of styles, and they wrote about vastly different subjects. It was quite enjoyable, educational, and entertaining.
As the readers read, I perused the audience. I knew no one, but I saw one man who looked vaguely familiar. He looked a bit like an acquaintance from my distant past. After the meeting, I approached him and asked him his name. “Morris,” he said.