Background Noise at a Coffee House

I spent a Friday evening out on the town with my sister and a friend.  We walked around the west side downtown area before taking a taxi back home.

We went to a little redbrick pub and coffee house filled inside with fairy lights and bookshelves.  I got a warm slice of apple pie, a Reuben panini, water from the pitcher in a corner, and a Mexican mocha in a mug, finding rustic polished wood seats amid the bustling college town crowd.  I had an acoustic guitar leaning in a corner from my music lesson earlier.

My friends and I talked about the books scattered haphazardly over our table, and about Pokemon Go.  (My friends are trying to get me more into gaming; I like anime and manga, but I currently play video and app games about as well and as often as a retarded goldfish.)  Out around us, people drank, laughed, and chatted, the atmosphere languid and friendly and the lights warm.  A regular host of live music, this was a place of culture instead of drinking, the sort of place where a cup of coffee could last for hours.

Eventually, a pianist started singing and playing keyboard in the background; she was dressed in a checkered flannel shirt and tight jeans.  Like most musicians, she knew enough not to ask me to play something just because I had an instrument, which I appreciated.

I don’t know what happened, but she played for a few minutes, then suddenly grabbed her jacket and ran out in tears.  She’d said something about singing a never before performed song…  Had she expected more of a reaction to her music?  I wonder.  Because she was good – very good.  But the venue was not one that allowed itself to some crazy huge reaction.  The atmosphere was all wrong if that was what she wanted.

And yes, I have sung in front of others before, so I do in fact know a little bit of what I’m talking about.  A word of advice?  If you’re really that sensitive about a song, you should probably wait to sing it until you’re in front of a bigger crowd that’s paid to listen to people sing.  I know that’s scarier, but you’ll also get more noise and reaction that way.

You don’t get wild rounds of applause as the background noise at a coffee house.

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Confetti Pink and Patriarchal Dudes

We pondered the absurdity of ice cream and shoe shopping when it was so black and rainy outside, but in the end my sister and I soldiered on after classes with our scheduled plans anyway.  We walked everywhere, hunched down over the sidewalks of long, dark, slick main thoroughfares in gleaming black rain jackets, mildly dazzled by dimly gleaming lights and the zooming of passing cars, our headphones in and our walk carrying the silence of the amiable.

We entered a lonely little few-table ice cream parlor first.  It was covered in gleaming glass and confetti pink.  I had a cup of late-night Oreos cookie n cream ice cream, while my sister got a big colorful ice cream cone.  We were the only patrons, aside from a heavily accented man trying to order ice cream ahead for later to the confused clerks, and a woman with her daughter celebrating the little girl’s birthday.

At one point I sneezed so loudly in the silence that my sister stared at me with big eyes, and I started laughing uncontrollably.  We fell into easier chatter after that, some strange spell broken.  We put on our collective bucket list an edible cookie dough place we recently learned about in New York, and nerded out over anime con stuff.

A big family entered the ice cream parlor as we left.  The mother was talking loudly enough for the clerks to overhear about “cheap ice cream.”

The gleaming single-story mall full of storefronts was nearly empty at this late hour.  A single red balloon was stuck to the ceiling in the quiet.  I’d needed some new summer shoes.  All I had right now were big, clunky black winter boots.

The extremely bored clerks in the aggressively red shoe shop immediately went to help me find the right shoes.  I shop fast – I get in, I get what I want, I get out.  I’m petite with an average woman’s shoe size, so it helps that I’m not terribly hard to shop for.  I chose grey and indigo crinkle patterned vans to go with my dark leggings and darker skinny jeans.

I’m boringly practical.  I only ever buy with debit, I buy shoes twice a year, and I never spend much time shopping.  I’m infamous for always picking out exactly what I want on the first try.

In other words, in patriarchal dude terms, I’m “kinda weird for a chick.”