Mystic Metals Body Jewelry
For someone who hates drinking as much as I do, I sure spend a lot of time in bars. A lot of time. Tons of time. Large quantities of time. Of course, I work in bars. So something could be said about that, I suppose. But in my off time, I find myself hanging out in bars. With friends, of course. I'm not just being creepy and sitting in the corner in my wheelchair hating on drunks and drinking cranberry juice alone. I'm usually sitting in the corner in my wheelchair hating on drunks and drinking cranberry juice with friends. Big difference.
When you're different for whatever reason, you draw attention in these places. Maybe I'm going to the wrong places. But it's true. I'm going to have story time today, so if you don't like story time, remember this: A brown recluse spider can bite you in your sleep and you could be dead before you wake up. And you'll never see it coming. Also, unicorns!
The singer in my band whom I call Q and I have become very close friends in recent months. He's a good man with a good heart. I think sometimes he doesn't know how to use that heart, or maybe he misplaces it sometimes, but he owns a good heart. We get along well, and have a good time. A friend's band was playing at a club this week, and Q called to tell me to come hang out. I drove to the joint. (The friend's band is Lost In Paris, by the way. They're fantastic, and Mikey Dredds is the sickest bass player on the scene.)
I drive into the parking lot of the place. There's a line at the door. A long one. Curious for a Tuesday. The line spilled into the parking lot, removing from play the first three handicapped parking spots, filling them with Chrissy's and Larry's. I parked in the fourth crippled spot. I snicker-snacked my wheelchair out of the backseat (I don't have a van with a lift, but I'll take donations.) and sat in it in the parking lot. I lit a cigarette as I anticipated my opportunity to do so later to be difficult, and texted Q. I waited for his response and heard the security guy who was checking ids yell, "Five dollars to get in." It actually sounded more like, "Yo, fie dollas ta git-in." I checked my pants; yup, still wearing them. Also, I checked for money in the pocket. I had three dollars and about eighty cents. (Tip of the week; Musician is a terrible job if you like money.) I texted to tell Q I was going home. He offered to pay my cover, but I refused to take the money. Q helps me out with gas and tolls when we carpool to gigs, so taking more money from him just to hang out seemed absurd. I sat in the parking lot beside my car smoking my cigarette, and foolishly, I allowed my brain to wander a bit.
The line for the door grew, mostly in pairs of half dressed broads with shitty shoes and groups of dudes looking to pound a Pabst and dance up on the aforementioned broads in an awkward pelvic thing that one could only describe as similar to Oscar the Grouch's friend Slimey's locomotion. This is where I decide to write the rest of the blog about the awful shoes or what I actually intended to write about. Tough decision.
Jibber jabber nonsense conversation in the line, people using cell phones to figure out where the rest of their party is, complaints about the weather and the line, debates on if the five dollar cover is worth it. I sat in my chair smoking and looking on these people, trying to ascertain the beauty of each, which is what I usually do when I look at strangers. And then, without my knowing or anticipating, my brain crashed like a hijacked plane into a building. Like an old west movie stick of dynamite whose fuse was lit by glares and stares, my brain exploded.
I'm not like these people. On most days, that's OK. Not that day. The line to get into the club was littered with the popular convention of beauty and style, from the polo shirts and designer jeans to the hideous wedges and dumb Tiffany bracelets. They looked at me sitting in my chair, smoking a cigarette and fingering my beard like some kind of disenfranchised Vietnam vet asking for change on a city corner. Admittedly, looking on me takes time to process. There are a couple of layers there that seem at odds with what people think those in wheelchairs ought to be. The modifications for one. The beard that looks like I've been lost in them thar hills for months. The metal t-shirt and cut off shorts. A lot of layers. So the looks and glares tend to take a second or two longer than usual. Then, an upturned nose and a hair flip severs the gaze and the interaction is over. The dudes mostly look, catch my gaze and then throw a head bob hello to break the tension. Then they turn to their bro friends and say something, sometimes accompanied by pointing at which time I throw a head bob hello and sometimes a joke about how the parking is great. This happens quite a bit if you can't tell.
I felt like a pitiful, unbeautiful mistake. That happens sometimes too. Some days it is difficult to swallow, like a pill slowly sliding down your throat sideways all day. I couldn't find my beauty just then, and since it is my compass, I was quite confused where true north was. (Yes, I know a compass shows magnetic north, but true north sounded more poetic. Let me have my fancy phrases.) The point is that I talk freely here about beauty. About knowing it and feeling it and being it and embracing it. But it is important to recognize when we can't do that. It is important to know that sometimes we drop our guard a little bit and get tagged. It happens, and it's OK.
When I'm not writing about some dicktouch who hates on modification culture, I feel as if I can be a little preachy about knowing and embracing your own beauty. It's an important thing to me, and I'd like it to be an important thing to everyone. But it is also a fragile thing that can become brittle at times and even deteriorate completely. That's what happened to me on Tuesday night. My beauty was brittle when I rolled into the parking lot, and the attention from those waiting in line eroded what remained of it. Likely unintentional on their part, of course, but still.
The reason why I am outlining this is because it's OK to be banged up. It's OK to forget sometimes, and it's OK to be tired. Your armor of beauty is heavy, and once in a while you start to feel it and need to set it down for a little while. It happens to me more than you may think, kids, and it's important to know that. It's not the fault or responsibility of the hoes and bros in the line at the club. As I said at the top, when you display the unconventional, attention will follow. Whether it's modification, handicap, or anything else that is outside of the onlookers' everyday view, you will get attention. Sometimes that attention rolls off like water off a duck's ass, but other times it's a little more difficult. Tuesday was a difficult day. Often when I talk to strangers about my attitude toward my chair and my crippled life, they tell me I am strong or tough or have such a good attitude. For the most part, I tend to. Or at least I tend to allow them to believe it. But none of us are invincible or impervious to the ether in the world that can put us in a cave filled with dark and bats and spiders. And that's OK. I'm not invincible, and I'm not impervious, and sometimes I like to let you kids know that so you don't think I am a bullshitter when I talk about the celebration of beauty. Can't have a lining without a cloud, can't have the full without the empty, can't have the light without the dark. We all fall off sometimes. I do too. Stay beautiful, kids.
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