July 11 1998, Saturday
oday Matt and I decided to go see a benefit concert for WCBN, Ann Arbor's student radio station. It was to take place in the "band shell" (a speaker-shaped stage area) in the same West Park where we'd been shooting hoops with Pixie Karen last night.
We stopped at a Kroger on the way to pick up some Orange Spice tea bags (so I could make vodkatea) and fruit juice (so Matt could mix himself something not quite as strong).
e didn't know how much money we'd need to get in to the concert, but as we approached the music on foot from the north, we gradually realized we'd be able to get in for free. The only people collecting money were under a tent behind a table, easily avoided.
We were very disappointed with the band that was playing when we first arrived. It was one of those big me-too white boy funk bands, the exact same kind that plies the University of Virginia's frat boy circuit. The songs dragged on forever, and there was no end to the number of songs to which they felt obliged to subject us. Matt and I were in agreement that this was torture.
If the next band had been another white boy funk band, we probably would have left right then and there, but we were very relieved when a punk-rock-influenced alternative group took the stage. It only had three members, and the bass player was clearly the best of them. They were a welcome change from what had passed before, but they seemed sort of uninspired and their songs felt like they needed a shot of real adrenaline, not the fake stuff they peddle on the streets.
By this point we were sitting under the central tent, the same one where donations were being accepted. Matt finally broke down and donated $3 to the WCBN cause.
The next band was a large acoustic ensemble playing bland, folksy music, appropriate (in a James Taylor kind of way) to this hot sunny day. I was kind of upset with Matt by this point because of his insistence (perhaps aggravated by drink) on loudly and severely criticizing the techniques and creativities of the musicians. He would shout things like "Come on, at least 180 beats per second!" and then snidely turn to me and draw my attention to the fact that the musicians had yet to play a single dissonant note. Now I like dissonance and speed as much as the next guy, but going through a checklist of characteristics when listening to music is the dorky antithesis of my personal æsthetic sense. It's the whole that is important, not individual traits. Matt's eagerness to launch into technical reductionistic criticism of all artistic expression has always been one of his most irritating traits.
went back to the car for more booze, but by the time I got back to the concert, Matt said it was time for him to be going to work, so he left me entrusted with his drink in addition to my own. It was going to be a drunk afternoon, that much was clear.
The band playing by this point was a weird hard rock outfit consisting of two stereotypical big-haired black-clad heavy metal white dudes on guitar and bass, a black drummer, and a tall, flamboyant, effeminate black guy doing vocals. I wouldn't say they were especially interesting musically, but their performance was fascinating to watch.
ithout Matt around, I didn't know anyone at all among the many in attendance. It was a lonely feeling, but it also had a titillating element of possibility to it. In such situations I usually focus vaguely on some girl, usually the one sitting closest by. There was an interesting-looking contingent of emoesque kids there, including a couple cute girls with dark hair and pale blue eyes, but I was so drunk I knew I'd just get in trouble if I tried to interact with them.
There was also a cute girl with a nice angular haircut wearing, oddly enough, a billowing purple hippie dress. She had a little grey dog with her who struggled to interact with other dogs many times its size. This girl looked at me critically a few times and I thought perhaps she was on to my impostor status, so I mostly tried to avoid her. But then she finally said something to me, asking if I was helping out with one of the bands. It was an innocent enough question, and broke whatever ice existed immediately. I quickly explained (trying as best as I could to conceal my unattractive intoxication) that I wasn't even from Michigan, that I was just visiting my friend Matt who was now off at work, enjoying the concert all by myself. She introduced herself as Kim and proceeded to invite me to a WCBN party happening later on tonight. It was thrilling to be making such solid, useful connections with someone I had just met. When she invited me to join her when she moved to sit down in front of the stage, I naturally agreed.
The last band of the concert was a large ensemble of musicians Matt had been telling me about for days. The band has a long unpronounceable name which I can't remember exactly, but I know it sounds something like "Pointless Post-operative." Matt is enthusiastic about them because much of their music is played in various Middle Eastern scales at a extremely quick pace. Being a fan of high speed Middle Eastern music myself, I found myself liking their performance. But they were more than just their sound. Most of the musicians had a certain co-ordinated quirky charisma about them, and their goofy antics on stage played well with the vitality of their sound.
hen the show was over, Kim and I joined up with her friend Lisa, a spunky brunette girl at whose house the WCBN party would be happening tonight. Since I didn't have any other special plans, I agreed to go with them on a dinner run. We ended up at a sandwich shop in the fratty part of town eating tempeh burgers and fries. The conversation flowed well between us. Since neither of them knew me at all, I took the time to tell them the basic facts of my life. I decided not to emphasize the Internet aspects. These girls were, after all, friends won completely in meatspace, and I was interested in seeing how the friendship developed without contamination by, say, news of the existence of this online journal.
Lisa dropped Kim and me off at Kim's place, a house in a little community across the Huron River. The streets there were all named after famous ones in Manhattan.
Kim lived by herself in a second floor apartment above a business. Since Kim is a massage therapist, she has a special massage table taking up a good part of one of her rooms.
Sipping beers and listening to music, we talked about lots of things. By this point it was mostly her doing the talking, telling me about attending the University of Loyola in New Orleans and living and teaching on the west coast. She's 28 years old and amazed to discover I'm 30. She'd thought I was about 25.
She changed out of her hippie dress into a tiny little mini-dress, and it didn't take much observation to realize she wasn't wearing anything underneath it. The air was getting kind of charged with potential. After awhile, though, I guess Kim thought better of her clothing choice. She got up to change again, this time into something providing a bit more discretion, if you will.
While she was on the phone I was kind of bored, so I stretched out my hand sort of towards her, watching the sunlight play across the burn scars (a legacy of the time I fell in a fire back in April, 1996).
I was delighted when Kim reached out and took my hand.
One thing led to another, as always seems to happen in these sorts of situations. For some reason Kim was edgy and even at times reserved, a condition she blamed on some lingering vibe reverberating from her last relationship, which ended only fairly recently.
Time had become a trivial consideration, but even so, judging from the angle of sunlight coming through the window, the hour had grown late. Here at the far western end of the Eastern Time Zone, it can be frightfully late, 9:10pm even, and still the Sun will hang like an orange PAID label stuck to the ruddy western skies. I'd planned to meet Matt Rogers after he got off work at 9:00pm down at the Fleetwood, so I suggested to Kim that we resume the exploration of our embarrassment of riches at some later time. She drove me to the Fleetwood in her white Volvo and we agreed to meet later tonight at the WCBN party, though she voiced a concern that she'd never see me again.
didn't really know how to break the news to Matt, so, over a cup of coffee and drunk with giddiness I just told him what happened. Boy meets girl under a hot sun and then go back to her place for a little summer fun... it's an oft-told story in American fiction, but it seldom ever happens in any given person's life. As I told the tale it was rather difficult for me to contain my jubilation, and though propriety and respect for Matt's envious feelings demanded that I do so, of course I failed miserably. There was, of course, a bit of a consolation prize in this for Matt. Kim had, after all, invited me and any of my friends to the WCBN party tonight. Our socializing would be a cut above the unbecoming geekfests with which Matt normally fills his evenings.
We wandered the streets of Ann Arbor, killing time in anticipation of tonight's party. One of the best ways to kill time is checking one's email in the University of Michigan's Angell Hall fish bowl, so we went there for awhile. Then we went down to the party, which was on John Street, sort of in the south of town.
he party was just getting up a head of steam when we arrived (note my unnecessary use of a surprisingly-antiquated cliché-metaphor). Back in the back was a table laid out with a great diversity of finger food, the sort one eats at art openings. And in the kitchen were endless coolers full of expensive beers. Lisa, Kim's friend with whom I hung out earlier today, was being the ultimate gracious host, seeing to it that Matt and I had everything we needed and were suitably introduced to those present, which included members of the band Pointless Post-operative and an old chum of Krazy Thom's named John Rastafari.
The house and this party had an uncanny resemblance to Charlottesville's Haunted House and to the parties thrown there. This was Ann Arbor's student radio scene, and I suppose it was natural that they looked, talked, and interacted in exactly the same manner as Charlottesville's WTJU scene. People in these music scenes tend to be very intelligent, stylish, graceful, but slightly awkward socially, as if they suffered a lot in high school for being different and have dedicated their lives to proving that they can outperform their old tormentors in the long run.
Matt seemed to get along amazingly well with both Kim and Lisa, and later in the evening he spent considerable time talking to a wickedly sardonic straight-rum-sipping girl named Miranda. I was gratified to see Matt relating so well with all these strangers. It applied a little context to my crazy tale and provided a good lesson on the importance of getting out of the house more often.
There was much dancing in the living room to music spun by a genuine DJ with two turn tables but no microphone. Those dancing were mostly just me, Kim, Lisa and Matt, but we did so for a long time.
Out on the porch away from the loud music, all kinds of interesting discussions were going on. Right before me I heard the birth of two new urban legends related to the hazards of having doggy-style sex with a girl who doesn't wipe her butt adequately. Miranda told of some guy she supposedly knew who was having sex with a girl who farted a piece of corn that stuck to his belly. Then this big dude told us that one of his friends discovered a fragrant poo stain on his chest after getting up on an enormously fat woman.
Kim and I were getting along well, though of course it was all very different in this social context. When we wanted to go home, she drove Matt and me back to Matt's car and kissed me goodnight.
t was sort of a let down to find myself sleeping alone on Matt's mother's couch after an intense day filled with such promise, but I guess Kim had her reasons for not inviting me back to her place.
one year ago
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