*were it more convenient, my scrawl would be manual. This typeface, this format…I find it anti-septic yet inclusive. These words stand to be judged, like bodybuilders in a line, all cut to the carver’s perception of perfection. It’s like one of those chainsaw art competitions – everyone starts with an identical stump.
I can’t explain how I feel about you.
My pen hovers above the page as I’m suspended in the moment.
It’s come for me again.
This buzz coursing & calming my body, as though I’d metamorphosed into electric silk. The third eye blinks, mine pineal winks, and a slow growth of mossy, tender euphoria, slow as cold molasses, bastes the bod.
It swells like high tide, swallowing me with tender motion. I’m trapped, encased in a bubble of soft-focus gratification. The golden hour has arrived. We take a slow drive, crushing through mi cabeza, down past shoulders shuddering with relief and anticipation. It navigates my corners taking my turns, rounding rough edges like a houseboat on a slalom.
This Sunday drive of ecstasy flows, joyously slow to it’s final destination. Softly, like a sophomore sneaking back in past curfew, it rolls into the most masculine of garages – stirring, purring…humming away at high idle.
I’m ready. Let’s play.
I write en route to a gig – Norwood, Mo. A wedding reception at the end of a one-lane path with a handcrafted trellis and giant Tom turkey of a guard dog.
Turkeys are underrated. Colorful, confident – the fat pimps of the bird world, peacocking skills rivaling the long-tailed namesake. The pleasant, bubbly “gobble-gobble” of a turkey is personally far preferred to the blood-curdling “Did I just run pre-school” terror screech of an actual NBC bird.
Weddings used to be my least favorite gig. There is no wider demographic for which you’ll ever play. Ages three months to three world wars, and only four people actually want you there. Everyone hears “band” and conjures up whatever their own personal desires spring to mind.
The emo nephew requests wrist-slitter slayer tunes…from a guy in boots onto which has been mounted an acoustic guitar. He doesn’t even want to hear it, just the denial fills his tank with mope fuel for the night.
The uncle-in-law wants Hank Williams for his dad, or Lefty Frizzel, if you’ve got any talent at all.
The bride’s mom always roots, suspiciously, for something exhibitionist, ostensibly so she can shake it in her Sketchers and ceremony blouse but who really knows at this point.
A half-dozen ten year-olds request some Tik Tok fad whose title alone a pornstar would whisper with averted eyes.
And there’s always at least one guy – a cousin, no doubt – who was or is in a “band” himself. He hovers by the stage with a drink, covertly ingratiating himself into the gang, vying to just feel that magical way once more, cummerbund notwithstanding.
There is but one salve which soothes all – eighties rock. The glammest of olive branches.
I used to dread weddings, and finally figured out why.
You can’t please everyone. But right or wrong, that’s goals to a performer – to bring people into your world, draw them slowly to your sphere, and gently cast them free to be their natural selves. Tears, smiles, laughs and screams are equally appreciated…anything but indifference.
That’s why ticketed shows are so validating. It’s pre-meditated praise – “I spent MY money on this piece of paper with your name on it BECAUSE it had your name on it. I’m here for your sphere. I know the rules, and I’ll leave when you’re thorough…just let me have a little of you for these scarce few minutes.”
I remember my first ticketed show. It was at a country club, such as it were, in western Kansas. I arrived and saw seats lined out, a doorman taking stubs with my name on them.
Ten dollars each they gave, and I fairly spiraled into confusion and vertigo. Me? Why? Before the self-doubt could army-crawl through a mine-field of insecurities, I swelled with something, something not quite pride, but close.
I was humbled to the core, and so gracious.
So I used to hate weddings, I did, when I tried to please everyone.
What I do now is simple – I try to please (*pleasure? Bwhahaha) myself, and it turns out everyone likes watching me do that. Grandma hung back all night, restraining herself from requesting Fat Julie, then brought a stool up and sat right next to me at the end of the night to ensure she heard it.
Turns out folks will pay for the pleasure of watching me pleasure try myself.
“It pleases me to watch you please yourself.”
I’m having too much fun with the double-entendres.
But how true, and I think of you at peace and pleasure, and it pleases me. So maybe it’s not so far-fetched.
I’m getting ahead of myself.
We arrive and chat with the proprietor, a converted flat-earther. The menfolk are clad in their finest Levi’s and Luchesi’s, bolo ties around the neck, forty-five’s on the hip. A gun rack holds six (unloaded, I checked…hehehe) rifles against the wall as you walk in. The hideous, gauche hot pink camo small frame AR is among the half-dozen, of course. Seeing it, I suspect there’s a girl nearby who has made ranch dip part of her identity and whose fake-baking habit really makes her black die job pop when she wears those thick-rib wife-beaters, the uniform of her species.
There were no shortage of lighters to be found when it came time to light sparklers to send off the bridge and groom, twenty-seven and twenty-four years old, respectively. They walked through a tunnel of maybe a couple dozen, sparklers not doing anything majestic, entertaining, or even remotely dangerous.
But they did have something to throw, like rice, but it wasn’t rice…leaves. Handfuls of MULCH. What appeared to be “that guy” was waiting at the end of a the line with a fist full of dirty leaves the size of a pineapple. He missed his first shot and patiently waited until the bridge hugged her mom….and then just dusted the poor girl. Dirty ass leaves down her dress, in her hair. They were BOTH virgins. I bet the groom was pissed. He damn near ran through that line. He opened the door to let her in a white Land Cruiser. A dog jumped in.
Someone else’s dog.
Another fifteen seconds passed to perform a “here boy” from the owner, and the groom ran around to the driver’s side door after his bridge mounted up. He spun the tires twice on the way out. Good for them. They enjoy the send-off, I sneak back in and house two ham-sandwich size pieces of raspberry-jam chocolate wedding cake. 12/10, recommend.
It’s on. Three hours fly by like thirty minutes. I don’t want to stop. I’m equally and at all times at war with my talent and preparation, high on this thing, this taste, the chase. Chasing perfection. Casting diamonds, seeking ever greater purity.
But now, this…THIS is my favorite part. The After.
My chaos is done, and it’s time to sneak away from the crowd to find solitude in the grass and blackness of midnight, stars ever-waiting to continue our conversation. The ceremony has begun. It’s time to pull this sweat-soaked shirt off and feel the chill of a night breeze on my skin, the shiver in the small of my back as sweat evaporates, taking with it tonight. It’s time to barter with the clerk at the only place still open, an all-night truck stop, to let us raid the fried chicken bins before he puts it away. I get the last Krispy Krunchy fried chicken sandwich, two cups of bomb jambalaya, and take a flier of some macaroni salad, the only deli item not yet put away. Bad beat on the salad.
I’m always starving after – it’s the adrenaline. I just walked off-stage, having given everything to the appreciation of twenty-something home-schooled Ozark dwelllers, nose-ring & tattoo cousins from Portland, the “dresses like IT consultant who shops at Target and tucks his polo into shorts just a little too short pulled a little too high” father, and some hard-rock, rode-hard runaway aunt.
My favorite part isn’t the chicken sandwich, nor the stars on the back porch where we wait in darkness for a billion bugs to disperse after I unscrew the porch light before going inside. We take a minute and ponder the stars, overcast with pockets of pure speckled wonder. It’s not the magnificent shower I indulge in, wrapping myself in a towel and making the unilateral decision to just not wear any more clothes today.
It’s this. This tale I tell, you listening with your eyes, wherever you are…whoever you are. You who is you, you know who you are, but sometimes you isn’t you at all…at times, you is me. Who can say for sure who someone else is when daily discovering their own truth and path. I don’t know who I am, but I know what I am is changing. I shed that skin, and this one too I’ll eave behind for whatever comes next, be it robes of royalty of the prefect thrift store treasure.
Sometimes you is nobody, not a body at all but a place I go alone that no one else can see.
But you can.
And so my pen does pause. So it hovers. There is no uncertainty, this is pure hedonism. I’m hanging by a moment, (shoutout Lifehouse), stretching these seconds til their flames fail. It’s this moment I live for, where we connect, regardless of proximity or present company. I feel you, feeling me, feeling you, and that fills me.
And soon I’ll be hungry again, so let’s just hold. One more minute. One more breath. One more life.