Write About Me
We started to talk after I stripped down to my underwear to lay face down on the massage table. I detected an accent so I asked him where he was from. There is a set of standard questions for a new massage therapist related to their background and experience. I imagine they have a standard set of topics for new clients, too.
When it came up in the course of our conversation that I write, he said “write about me.” “People don’t write anymore”, he said, “and it’s important.” I’ve come across a number of people who are flattered to be included in stories I write. But it has been a mixed bag of reactions.
One man threatened to sue me after I published something about him and included too many identifying specifics. At the time, I felt he was overestimating the reach of my little blog here on Medium. He was more concerned about people in our small writing circle who might recognize him. I took the story down. I learned a valuable lesson about protecting other’s privacy. Not everyone thinks telling their truth is something that should be put out there for general consumption.
I’m much more careful now about writing about people in my life. My estranged husband once claimed a friend saw a link on Facebook to a story about our marriage and his issues with addiction. There was no such link, but I have written about this as part of my story. One of my son’s girlfriends mentioned she had read a story on www.victoriaponte.com and liked it. It was a story that included a good bit about my husband’s issues. I believe that was how the story got back to him. He was furious because he felt it wasn’t anyone’s business. He was correct. But the story wasn’t about him, it was about my experience with him.
There is a certain man I’m acquainted with who doesn’t seem to care at all what I say about him. I even use his real first name in the stories. I know he’s always flattered that I seem to be thinking about him.
The massage therapist freely shared information about his life while I stared down at his dark black legs and feet. He was from Haiti. He has been doing massage for 21 years. He met his wife at church before there was the internet. His mother died from a brain tumor when he was in his early 20’s. He was the youngest of seven children. His father died in a car accident when he was one year old.
He has been married for 14 years. His son is 11 and his daughter is 9 going on 23.
He asked me to write about him so I did. I’ve read stories about writers being cast out by their friends and families because of something they wrote. You never know how people will react. We do have to consider the ramifications of writing abut people we know because it’s a situation that is fraught with potential landmines.