I used to be annoyed with people who constantly handed out flyers to their shows. It's like receiving a chain letter: You know you ain't gonna participate, but can't help but feel some impending doom will befall you if you do not. In the case of a friend's band, the doom takes the form of seeing them again after their show and having to explain why you weren't there — you have to think fast, because last time you also "couldn't make it," so this one had better be good: Your cat got stuck in the lint trap of your dryer and you had to rush her to the vet. Bingo! That's not stupid at all.
However, when I weigh the discomfort that said bandmembers feel when no one shows up to their gig against my own selfish discomfort at having to leave the privacy of my home, I invariably will show up to the club to see them.
Such was the case last week at Kimo's, when a friend's band was set to go on second. "We could really use your support" was ringing through my head, and dadgamit, I decided to go.
Kimo's is on the edge of the Tenderloin, which means it's always worth the price of admission for me. The bands play upstairs, and if that gets too dull, you can always go downstairs and strike up a conversation with the various weirdos, regulars, and loose women who have also shown up and avoided the live music.
I arrived and went upstairs to pay the cover, making sure to mention the band's name to the door guy so that he knew someone had actually shown up for them. Then I made my way toward the back sofa with my drink and a crossword puzzle. You see, I immediately felt uncomfortable and out of place, despite the fact that I used to cover music as a full-time job. But that's the problem with making something you love into a job: It becomes a job. It's the same reason that I never got a job at Disneyland. I don't want to see Goofy take off his mask and light up a Marlboro. It destroys the magic.
I sat there for a while, feeling more and more disquiet, and eventually did what I knew I was gonna do, which was head downstairs to the actual bar.
The area is small, with a few little tables and a medium-sized bar. There is usually a large door guy overseeing the madness, keeping out the riff-raff (in theory) and chatting up the bartender, and that was exactly what was happening. There was one stool left at the bar, and I wedged in between two girls, who seemed to be on their fourth rum and Cokes, and some disheveled regulars. And I sat. And sat. The bartender looked at me and kept talking to the door guy. I sat some more. I reminded myself that I had come down there to escape the anxiety I felt upstairs, but being ignored wasn't helping. I suppose I had the look on my face of someone who had come for the band and was just chilling a little bit away from the action. Or the bartender sucked. I was determined to win this match.
Finally, he came over and made eye contact. If he had uttered words, I suppose they would have been "What'll you have?", so I ordered a drink and put my money down. Plus tip, of course, because I am codependent that way. A band started upstairs and I could hear the boom boom boom through the floor.
I took out my cellphone and started sending inane texts to various friends. What did people do in awkward social situations before cellphones? More importantly, why would someone like me, who spends so much time in bars, feel weird? Fuck it. I was just gonna sit there and that was that.
I began to listen in on the girls' conversation, which was predictably about some dude who was being flaky. "He's just not that into you" comes to mind.
"Why did I sleep with him?" moaned the squirrely one.
"You were drunk," said her friend.
"Yeah," she concurred. Then I remembered what people did in uncomfortable situations before there were cellphones. They drank. Some things never change.
The girl continued to talk about her situation, the same situation that has befallen all of us, and she was trying to make herself feel better by outlining all of her feelings and all of the things that led up to the event, in some vain attempt at not feeling powerless. Lord, did I feel her pain. Life is a series of discomforts, I realized. We can either run from them or face them head-on. Or, we can compromise by paying to see the band and then going downstairs.
Here's the really good thing about Kimo's: It's right on the bus line. All you have to do is stumble a few feet out the door and catch the 19. I did just that. As I waited for it to arrive, I heard the first band do its last song, and I knew that my friends were getting ready to set up. I had spoken to them and then got lost in the crowd. For all they knew, I was still up there. Karmic debt repaid, as far as I was concerned.
The next day, I got a post on my Facebook page: "Thanks for supporting our band Katy!!"
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