Good buzz

Some things just can't be explained.
Some things just can’t be explained.

Midwest sounded fab last night. Which is saying a lot given the incessant buzzing of the sound system. Which was forgivable given that the sound guy was also the bartender, and the place was packed. When I ordered a second whisky, he said “Can you bring your other glass back?” Which was understandable given that he was also the dishwasher.

I couldn’t believe Frank came. He just sort of appeared, in the dark of the club, as I was talking with Magdalena. Midwest was warming up. Nicolette was politely speaking to the bartender through the mic, “Could we have this up a little?” Customers were three-deep at the bar, but he ducked over to the sound board for a minute. I assume it was a sound board. I was too busy being shocked to see that yes, indeed, it was Frank. I hugged him tightly, wanting that to say all my words couldn’t. “You’re here,” I said.

“I’m here,” he said. We didn’t talk about Fern. Her memorial is in a few weeks. The fact that he got here, and was already joking about the bartender, seemed to say that he could function if he kept to the surface. And when the first song started, “Don’t go,” he didn’t have to joke around anymore. Except for the part where he said, “They’re really good,” like he was a little surprised, he could just listen.

Speaking of surprises, I’d already had one when Magdalena walked in. It was her husband who’d asked Dave about dates, who seemed more interested in music. But at nine I got a text that Magda was leaving her house, and at nine-thirty here she was, paying my tip to the bartender since I’d run out of cash. Her man is out of town, and with Dave on stage, still warming up, we both had time for a nonexistent affair with the rockabilly guy from the first band. Mine ended amicably, but Magda’s was messy, fraught with hurt feelings. We decided that the play will premiere soon.

Music makes me happy. Nicolette makes me want to show her my poetry. Her old boyfriend and also her new boyfriend were there. She felt bad because she’d kissed her new boyfriend in front of her old boyfriend. But it was before she knew her old boyfriend was there. An accidental moment can forever change the way we feel about ourselves and each other. Which is why we need songs. They make sense of coincidence and misfortune and things that can’t be explained, two minutes and forty-two perfect seconds at a time.

All I know

Thank god for strangers who take the time to let you know.
I’ve always depended on the opinions of strangers.

Dave and Chet both had their band debuts last night. Georgia just texted to say Chet’s was fab. Dave’s, I would call really good. They played great, each of them individually sounded fab, but the mics didn’t work, so the instruments were much louder than the voices, which, when you’re a band, is not totally fab. But they rolled with it, and people seemed to really love them. Next time, some amps.

We hung out with Kismet and Kyle and Billy and Joan beforehand. Had dinner at Crisp and then went to have a drink before the music. Every bar we walked into had a distinctive odor. As an Amazon review of a possible purse I once wanted to buy said, “All I know is this bag smells BAD.” One bar smelled like vomit, another like yeast but not yeasty bread baking. Kyle thought maybe chlorine, which would have been preferable. The third smelled like air freshener which ordinarily would set me off, but suddenly seemed like at least they were trying.

We had a drink and then headed to the theatre where Midwest was playing an after-the-show set in the lobby. For friends and any theatre patrons who wanted to stick around. I realized about halfway through that I can’t go to live performances anymore. I spend most of the time being angry at whoever is talking during the show. Fifty people squeezed into that room, 48 of them listening intently to catch the words and the harmonies that were tumbling out, beautiful but a little remote, and all I can hear are two people talking, I swear in fake British accents, about studying abroad.

Although I turned around, very pointedly in my opinion, several times, they just kept talking. Something about a theatre program in London. Maybe I should have done something more, but if they turned out to be friends of someone else in the band, it could be awkward later.

Like last week at City Winery, when a table-full of women next to us kept yakking it up like they were at an Applebee’s, all the way through the singer’s ballad. I waited until I caught the eye of one of them, and then I smiled, and then she smiled, and then I mimed turning down a stereo. Her eyebrows went up, and then I nodded at the stage, and then she said something to her friends, and they all stared at me. I smiled back and looked, again I would say pointedly, at the stage.

They quieted down, but later, at the break before the headliner came on, the woman came up to me in the women’s room. “I just wanted to say,” she said, “I didn’t know we were being so loud.”

I washed my hands and tried to laugh it off. “Oh, I’m terrible about things like that.”

Clearly she agreed because she said again, “We didn’t think we were being that loud.” She added, “My friend said you can order food here, so we can talk if we want.”

I couldn’t make sense of that, so I just said, “Enjoy the next act.”

“My friend’s daughter is one of the musicians,” is what she left me with.

“I hope that means you’ll keep your trap shut,” is what I didn’t spit back.