04 November, 2010

Between Sets Bullshit

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those only of the author and may only coincidentally reflect those of Mystic Metals, its employees, or associates. All responses should be posted as comments here, or mailed directly to the author, A. Robert Basile, at ihatebasile@gmail.com. Mail sent directly to Mystic Metals will not be read.

Between Sets Bullshit


I have a new shoe to hate. I saw a couple at the bookstore yesterday who each had those shoes with the toes cut out. They look like shoes you would wear when you’re surfing or doing other such dumbness. They’re awful and I hope the factory that makes them burns down, or better, there’s an investigation and it turns out that the shoes are made by ten year olds in some shit country for ten cents a day. Eat that, you dumb ass hippie, dreadlocks, hemp necklace, cute in public couple with the worst shoes ever. I’d better take it easy, though, because my ultra liberal friend Amanda might come at me with some ‘save the world,’ or ‘love everyone for who they are’ bullshit. (See also, my Facebook for the idiotic arguments she and I have regularly.)

I do hate quite a bit, don’t I. I’m not entirely sure why that is, and in actuality, I just lied to you. I do know where it comes from, but there’s something buried deep within my carbon meat bag that makes me hate, makes me rage, makes me “become wrath, David.” (Name that movie.) I’m not going to share too much about that, but what I will share is a story that happened to me recently, and we’ll see how it relates. Doesn’t that sound like fun? No? Then go punch a hippie. That’s a ton of fun.

If you don’t know by now, I’m a bass player in a cover band. Trust me, there are a ton worse ways to make money, and if you count ‘work in a porno store’ as one, I’ve done that too. There’s a certain role that you need to assume and understand when you play in a cover band. First off, no one is there to see you play; they are there to hear the music you play. They are there to hear the songs they dig and probably sang along with on the way to the club. Performing in an original band is very different, and something I’ve done for a long time. What makes a cover band different is that at the end of the night, someone hands you money. The other thing you need to know about being in a cover band is that you’re selling on and off the stage. You’re selling fun and good times. You’re selling a night out with the girls, a bachelor party, a birthday, whatever is going on at the club, you’re selling. Just like selling anything, you smile and make each person you’re interacting with feel as if they are the most important person in the room. On and off stage.

In between sets, you go out for a cigarette, you get a drink, you take a break and get ready for set two or three or whatever. Being a bass player, I don’t worry too much about mingling between sets. That’s Dan’s job; he’s the singer. But I’m recognizable. I’m the only modified person in the band, and I sit down when I play on account of my shitty legs. In Atlantic City recently, a woman accosted me between sets. She asked me questions. A lot of them, and occasionally the same ones because she was shit blasted drunk. She was droopy eyed blitzed, and probably around fifty five years old, dancing inappropriately with her husband.

It started with the stretched lobes. A very simple, “Why?” Simple. We face that question all the time, don’t we, and we each have our answers that are always in the front of our mouths. Our ‘I did not have sexual relations with that woman’ prepared statement. We all have one. Depending on how drunk the person I’m talking to is dictates which response I use. I told her, “I like the way it looks. You don’t?” Then I suggested she take a shot with my guitar player so I could leave the conversation. She saw through that. “That can’t be it,” she said to me. “Why can’t it?” I asked. She looked at my cane, reached for it, and took it in her hands. I leaned on her shoulder to stand. “I think it has to do with this,” she said. I suppose it’s written on my face, but I played the game anyway. “Can I have my leg back,” I said, “I need it to stand.” Then she asked about my leg, the wooden one, the extra one, the one I wasn’t born with, and we talked about it.

Keep in mind that we only get about fifteen minutes between sets, and in those fifteen minutes, I’m only really interested in smoking a cigarette, throwing water on my face, and sometimes taking a shit. Instead, in this situation I had to field questions about spina bifida, what it is, what I’ve gone through, why my modifications relate to it, and how it will dictate my future. After repeating the gory parts a thousand times so that her drunk ears could imbibe the information properly, she offered her opinion which was obscured by the intervention of drunk vowel sounds where consonant sounds ought to be. I shifted my weight where I stood, leaning on my cane with my right hand, then my left, back to my right. She stumbled over words before putting her hands on my face and telling me I was beautiful. I think that if I didn’t have the forethought to turn my head, she’d have kissed my lips instead of my cheek. Saved by Dan on mic asking me if I’d like to play the second set.

I played like shit in the second set because my head was in the place I like it least to be. My head was in the disabled place. The woman didn’t necessarily put me there so much as I indulged her enough to get to that place. My getting there, however, was birthed from the position of being an entertainer. Remember all that ‘always selling’ shit I said earlier? As an entertainer (I’ve always wanted to use the term ‘show business’) my job is to make sure these people are having fun. The more fun they have, the more they drink. The more they drink, the better we look. The better we look, the more we get paid. So when someone wants to talk about what he wants to talk about, then I talk about it. It’s part of the entertaining, like hosting a party. So when the drunk woman is grilling me about my disability, how do I respond appropriately? How do I fulfill my responsibility as an entertainer but still make this woman aware that her inquisition is borderline inappropriate?

I never want to be a dick when it comes to my mods or my disability. Social interaction, though a something that I really don’t dig, is a something that ought to be as comfortable with strangers as it is with the people with whom you are the closest. I say what I say whether a stranger asks me a question or a family member. Everyone is equal. Of course there are perks to being close to me. Like, if you’re my girl, you get treated better than any girl is being treated by any man anywhere (isn’t that right...Oh wait, there is no one.). But a stranger gets the same answers to the same questions. I talk about my disability openly because I want people to be OK with it. I talk about my modifications because I want people to be OK with them. Dialog is important, and with an open door policy toward all things in my reality, is it foolish or irresponsible of me to put limits on it? Is it unfair to say, “Ask me anything, but if you go too far I’m going to stop you.” If I say ask me anything, it should mean anything. No caveats, no special cases nor rules. Absolute. If the stranger goes into a territory I am not comfortable with, isn’t it my fault for being so open? Am I naive to think that strangers will know where the amorphous social boundaries lie and stop themselves before they reach that shore of ‘too many questions?’ Is it my fault that the woman at the club put me in a bad mood?

Since I am the one with the information that the stranger wants, I suppose it is my responsibility to reveal that information as I see fit. I don’t have to tell the woman about specific events in my life that have shaped my perception and therefore manifested themselves in the positive and beautiful art form of modification. But I do. Why do I? Because I respect people. I might hate people, but I have more respect than you might assume. I respect that if someone asks a question, he ought to be prepared for all possible answers. It’s like a stranger in line behind you at the coffee shop who says something like, “This line is taking forever,” and expects you to agree. In my perception, he ought to be prepared in case I disagree. Why should he assume that I’ll agree just because it’s a forced social interaction with a stranger. I try not to be a yes man; I try to be an honest man. How far off base am I? I need advice, kids. Stay beautiful.

Talk to A. Robert Basile on AIM at Basilephone
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1 comment:

  1. That movie is Seven.
    Having been working in retail for almost 10 years, I never give the answer most people want to hear. I'm not sure why that is, as most people have at one point or another, worked in retail themselves. When someone complains about the line up, or service, I usually reply with a reason as to WHY they feel that way, or an explanation of why the line is long. People try to make small talk as a way of social interaction, to pass the time, but is it not always awkward? When someone says "This line is taking forever" I usually ask "Is there somewhere you have to be?" and of course, 90% of the time, they believe I am being rude, and turn the other way without responding. The answer is always "No, I really don't have somewhere to be, and that's why I'm complaining to you instead of getting out of line, and heading on my merry way". It is a fine line between rudeness and honesty. You'll feel better if you say what you mean, even if the other person become offended. I used to say "oh yeah, this line is terrible" but I wanted to smack myself after saying it, because I have no idea what caused the line up, and whether or not the poor kids at the counter have already heard the same comment 10 times in the last hour. Maybe someone called in sick, maybe someone quit. But I can probably say that they are doing their best to fix the situation, and just because it isn't to YOUR standards doesn't mean that they aren't.
    At the same time, with retail experience, I can often tell where there is a lack of good customer service, and can understand where the customer is coming from, but complaining about how long a line up is to a perfect stranger isn't going to speed things up.