If You Like Parties… #4
Seven for Five
Tonight the bands are seven for five bucks, mostly unremarkable, but the kids have great plumage as they sway and flirt in the courtyard out back. One of them takes a long pull off a PBR and says to her friend, “That looks like the guy who stuck his hand in the blender at my house last night.” Inside a longhair stands taking off his clothes in the corner. A tall person dancing by the stage smiles like a young John Doe, lighting up one whole side of the room. I sit for a while by myself sort of not knowing what to do with my hands, which feels the same as it always has, except that now I’m not so self-conscious about being self-conscious. Instead I spend a few minutes enjoying the awkwardness. This is the feeling people drink to suppress, but they shouldn’t bother. After all, who cares? Nobody cares. And even if they did, who cares?
I drink anyway. I’m talking to a woman with impossibly (not too strong a word) thick black braids and a complexion that may one day, if she doesn’t take precautions, be considered “ruddy” but is now a smooth toasted rose. She’s just come down from hiking the Pacific Coast Trail. I ask if she gets stuck talking to annoying creeps when she’s walking alone. She says yes, that does happen, but it’s not so bad in the context of the loneliness of the trail. I ask what goes on in your head, hour after hour of walking in silence. She says you think about music and sex a lot. She says it takes about a week for the noise and slogans and pop-culture detritus to slough away, but she doesn’t tell me what replaces it.
As we talk I’m thinking about getting older in the scene. The things that change. How it starts to seem like a good idea to frame things instead of just taping them to the wall. How you have less time for anything that feels like you’ve heard it before. How clichés taste like turds in your mouth. How taking things slow seems nice, even exciting. How you no longer pretend you can get away with not flossing. How instead of worrying about what you’re going to do with your life, you worry about whether you’ll have to do it alone. Unless, that is, you’ve already set up house.
After seven bands’ worth of no ins-and-outs the floor is a slick rink of sweat and beer that a few wasted kids are skating across arm-in-arm. Everyone is clearing away from the edges of the pit, so they get farther and farther out, and I feel bad that no one will create that flexible human rope to enclose the space. It occurs to me that the pit is just a manifestation of the desire for boundaries from an indulgent community. We want there to be some guidelines to go apeshit inside. The kids are flinging themselves out into space to see who will push them back into the sweaty mess. Spinning so fast or charging so hard they fall, just to be reassured someone will pick them up. It’s sometimes more entertaining than the band, but not when the band is Rayos X, from Los Angeles.
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