Midwest sounded fab last night. Which is saying a lot given the incessant buzzing of the sound system. Which was forgivable given that the sound guy was also the bartender, and the place was packed. When I ordered a second whisky, he said “Can you bring your other glass back?” Which was understandable given that he was also the dishwasher.
I couldn’t believe Frank came. He just sort of appeared, in the dark of the club, as I was talking with Magdalena. Midwest was warming up. Nicolette was politely speaking to the bartender through the mic, “Could we have this up a little?” Customers were three-deep at the bar, but he ducked over to the sound board for a minute. I assume it was a sound board. I was too busy being shocked to see that yes, indeed, it was Frank. I hugged him tightly, wanting that to say all my words couldn’t. “You’re here,” I said.
“I’m here,” he said. We didn’t talk about Fern. Her memorial is in a few weeks. The fact that he got here, and was already joking about the bartender, seemed to say that he could function if he kept to the surface. And when the first song started, “Don’t go,” he didn’t have to joke around anymore. Except for the part where he said, “They’re really good,” like he was a little surprised, he could just listen.
Speaking of surprises, I’d already had one when Magdalena walked in. It was her husband who’d asked Dave about dates, who seemed more interested in music. But at nine I got a text that Magda was leaving her house, and at nine-thirty here she was, paying my tip to the bartender since I’d run out of cash. Her man is out of town, and with Dave on stage, still warming up, we both had time for a nonexistent affair with the rockabilly guy from the first band. Mine ended amicably, but Magda’s was messy, fraught with hurt feelings. We decided that the play will premiere soon.
Music makes me happy. Nicolette makes me want to show her my poetry. Her old boyfriend and also her new boyfriend were there. She felt bad because she’d kissed her new boyfriend in front of her old boyfriend. But it was before she knew her old boyfriend was there. An accidental moment can forever change the way we feel about ourselves and each other. Which is why we need songs. They make sense of coincidence and misfortune and things that can’t be explained, two minutes and forty-two perfect seconds at a time.