Friday, April 1, 2011

I play music at bars sometimes.

I play music at bars sometimes. It's good fun. My friends come out. I meet new people - bar patrons, other musicians, adventurous friends of friends. All of this, I enjoy.

This story is about one of these times.

I had been looking forward to this show. I liked the venue and it was close to my house. Also, we hadn't played in a while, so the resilient novelty was back.

The sound check was over and so I approached the bar for a free PBR, my favorite of the minimal perks awarded small-time musicians. As I waited, a man entered from the street. His appearance wasn't remarkable, but the way he interacted with his surroundings was slightly alarming. He greeted everyone with great physical and vocal enthusiasm, like he had just arrived at a family reunion. The responses were minimal or nonexistent, which made his behavior seem even that much more out of place.

He approached me and asked a few questions. I, entertained, engaged him for a short period of time.

"Who's in your band?" he asked.

"Those guys over there. " I answered, pointing to a small circle of men across the room.

"Oh, I know those guys." he said as he swung his arms in an "aw shucks" kind of way and began to walk toward the other members of my band.  I knew he did not, in fact, know them and so I did not follow him, but instead went on drinking my free PBR.

He didn't approach me again until I was walking from the bar to the stage.  I hadn't been playing attention and the out-of-synch strumming and drumming, characteristic of any band's first moment on stage, alerted me to the fact that I was supposed to be there too.

Once we made eye contact before I reached the stage, I knew I had been intercepted.  He began to speak, set on another conversation, but I interrupted.

"I have to get on stage now," I said with a smile.  (One is always kind to people in bars when they're about to listen to one's music.)

"Okay, but I have one more thing for you after," he replied.

"Okay," I said, with another smile that he may or may not have seen before I turned my head away from him.

Hopping on stage, I wondered what this "one more thing" would be.  And had there been other "things" that would make this new "thing" an addition?

I didn't have too much time to wonder.  When I turned around to face the audience, there he was, standing inches from the stage, right in front of me.  He was holding his right hand out, palm down, with his fingertips all touching - the way you would carry a dirty diaper.  But there was no diaper, or anything else, hanging from his gathered fingers.  He looked at me, expectantly, and continued to hold his hand toward me.  I decided that there must be something very small in his hand that he was trying to give me.

Not wanting to be rude, I flattened my hand, palm up, and held it under his.  He released his fingers and something fell onto my hand.  I closed the gap between my face and hand to get a better look.

It was an eyebrow ring.  At least, I assumed it was an eyebrow ring because he had a similar silver hoop through his eyebrow.

I was at once confused and disgusted to be holding something that was meant to be pushed through the face of an unsavory stranger.  I smiled an anxious smile and said "thank you" as the chords of the first song began to play.

Sustaining the anxious smile, I tilted my still flat hand over the set list on the ground until the questionable object slid off and rested right in the middle of the sheet of paper.

We started to play, and I forgot for a minute what had just happened, but between the first two songs, and every song thereafter, I looked down to check the set list there it was, shiny and upsetting.

The man's behavior during the show was, considering the story until this point, not surprising.  Erratic movements and exclamations as well as, I believe, at least some mild disrobing.  (He wasn't drinking, but I heard afterward that he was seen taking some pills.  That helps a little.)

When we were finished, he approached the stage, but this time, I decided to take a bit more control of the situation.  I picked up the load-bearing set list and offered it to him.

"Do you want this back?" I asked, very seriously, looking at the ring.

"No, that's for you because your nose ring is so beautiful." he replied.

(I had switched my nose ring from a stud to a hoop right before the show, to be a little bit cooler.  This was not cool.)

"It's okay, I have plenty." I said, bringing the piece of paper closer to him, and tilting it toward him.  The ring began to slide and he caught it.

"Thanks, though." I said, my usual smile returning.

fellow synchrobloggers' posts:
Music Ascending
Hail, Music
sing on, michael bolton

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