I think I’m going to have to modify my policy when it comes to accepting invitations for Muslim events.

I definitely believe in giving back to the community, but when the organizers see fit to hire a clown and a magician (never mind how incongruous it is to have a magician at an Islamic event!!!) and yet balk when I suggest they pay me…well you just know it won’t be a good experience.

And yet, I went with an open mind.

In the past, when I’ve volunteered for stuff, I’ve grumbled and belly-ached only to experience a life-altering moment.

I seem to have a lot of life-altering moments! It mostly happens when I go and the people are so sweet and the kids so eager to hear my stories and the joy that I’ve been instrumental in, is apparent, and then it makes me feel like a heel for grumbling all the way there.

Anyway, I vowed a while back that when I give my time, I would do so freely and willingly and NOT grumble.

So I was perfectly prepared to be pleasantly surprised even though the organizer had grudgingly decided to give me a table to hock my wares, er, sell my books, as a small compensation for not being paid.

It was a disaster.

They didn’t even see fit to provide water for the presenters and I was thoroughly upstaged by the clown. He wasn’t even that good. He dropped his ring while he was juggling for goodness sakes!

And when it came my turn to tell stories, the audience mostly abandoned me to line up for the clown’s balloon animals. And yet…about fifteen kids from four to about twelve did stay. Despite all the myriad distractions they stayed, a few joining and a few leaving during the process to hear my folktales.

And for their sake, I strained my voice trying to be heard over the clamour.

Even as I type this I feel peeved, not so much at the organizers, but at my self.

I’m doing the very same thing I criticize other authors for doing.

I know a few divas (both male and female) who constantly complain about ‘mistreatment’.

But I’ve met many over the years. I nickname them ‘gripers’ in that they’re always griping. Some even gripe about the fact that they’re perceived as a divas!!!

So for the most part, I try NOT to complain. I don’t want to be odious. Like them.

I guess the lesson I need to learn from this is to be more selective. I will continue to give back to my community–heaven knows they need it! But I won’t go to any more events for this particular organization.

Or for any event where I have to ‘compete’ with a clown!

Please note, this post has been edited since I first put it up.