Thursday, July 10, 2008


The young family comes out around seven every night. The babysitter trades off with Mom and Dad, and the two little girls run sloppy laps around the ersatz courtyard, squealing and giggling for a half hour until they're tuckered enough for a bath and bed.

Last night they sat on a blanket, Mom and the girls at first, reading and playing. The sky rolled in with gray furrows and distant mutterings. As I rose to close our ancient pulley windows the littlest one stood barefoot on the blanket, her feathery hair blown over her eyes, chubby hands fisted. She looked out as though she could see the thunder approaching and would take it down a peg once it reached her. The older girl clung to her mother and shuddered. She jumped as I slid the windows down, craning her neck to find the source of the rumbling too-close noise.

Usually I say hello to the little family, but last night I was distracted and awed by their impunity. Even mother nature didn't dare rain on them. The father smiled gently as he gazed in the direction of his toddler's stare.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

and dreams

Lately it’s every time I go through Park Street station; there he is, packing up his guitar, wrapping up cords, zipping bags and gathering gear. I always miss the music.

He has brown eyes, big bear build, colorful, detailed tattoos sleeving strong arms. His head is shaved shiny. He wears brown and jeans and has a wallet chain. When he sings into his mic, his voice surprises me with its flannel softness.

In my work I don’t waste time with shyness, or coyness for that matter. The cafĂ© is a stage and I act my ass off. The day flies by in a series of vignettes – this customer likes to be courted with sweet how-was-your-weekends and how-is-your-handsome-sons, the other one likes to be teased, told we’re out of his favorite things, made to pout before delivering his order exactly as he likes it. Old Man T comes in for his bagel, toasted darkly, one butter, small coffee, and sings vaudeville tunes to me as I hustle for him, trying to smile in appreciation when I can.

It’s funny that Park Street Guitar Guy leaves me tongue-tied. Musicians in general, performers in general, leave me tongue-tied. Perhaps it’s my own discomfort as a performer – it’s nice to be told someone enjoyed your performance, but also unmanageable. You say, “Thank you, I’m glad you enjoyed it,” and try to sound sincere, but really you know all the little things you missed and mangled and want to tell everyone how unworthy of praise you feel at the moment. And so what do you say to an artist you admire?

As I lean on the fourth metal column, past the second fan, across from the big subway map, I think of how to talk to him.

“My timing’s off. I always miss your music now…”

What would he say to that? Sounds like the start of an awkward conversation. And even though we make eye contact fairly often, I don’t know if he remembers seeing me. If he does remember seeing me, perhaps he won’t like the familiarity. Who needs a stalker?

“So, do you make any real money?” Hmm, seems rude. As does, “Do you play anywhere… else? Like, real gigs?” How could I put that better? “Nice elbows.” Thinking that, I laugh to myself. He looks up and I hide behind the column for a minute.

Well, I console myself, he could be a douche. He does play a lot of Dave Matthews, after all. He’s probably like all the pseudo-hippie frat boys I’ve learned to avoid, trying to get laid with a little heartfelt tune here and there, playing the misunderstood, suffering artist. Ugh. If he has a pocket-sized dog-eared copy of On the Road or Howl on his person at all times, it’s already over.

Still, there's something to be said for hormones and dreams, isn't there? A crush is a crush. It makes your heart bubble, makes you sweep your hair back, straighten your back, and hope.