The Musician

Sitting at a bar with my sister, I survey the room.

Nope. Nope. Uhhhhh… nope. 

I sip at my bourbon and twist my hair between my fingers. I fiddle with the tank top I’m wearing and try not to think about the self doubt that keeps creeping into my subconscious.

Does my hair look okay? Do I look like I have a gut? Am I easy looking? 

I think about all the times I’ve felt forgotten, and try to ignore those thoughts. What the hell do those thoughts have to do with the eyes of the guys on the bar looking at me now? I feigned disinterest and felt the big smile on my face protect me like a blanket.

I’m here to meet people.

The jazz band strikes up again. The bar fills with swing music. My sister gets up to dance. She loves to dance. I smile. I love to smile.

The singer announces a break for the group. My sister winks at me. “Go talk to them, Natty.” She says.  I felt the bourbon filling my head and the self doubt begins to be muffled behind my smile. I think, as I flounce across the room toward the musicians: IDontKnowWhatI’llSayButI’mGonnaFlirtHard.

“Great Set.” I begin, locking a pair of blue eyes in the face. I smile. A waiter brings over a steaming plate of food. “I’ll let you eat.” I say, and turn on my heel to flounce back to my spot.

“Let’s get out of here.” I say, once back, checking my phone. It’s getting late, and I have to be up at 8am to prepare for a callback. My sister groans. She wants to dance. I smile.

We walk toward to exit. The band has started up again. The musician I made eyes with is eyeing me as I walk out. We locked eyes all the way across the bar. On the street I turned around and saw through the window that he was still looking. He waved. I blushed.

My sister and I walked a block. “I don’t know what to do, Cait. Was he cute? Should I do something?”

“YES.” She demands. She taps her foot, and the orange glow of the street lamp gives her a halo.

“Whuddoaydo?” I ask. I bite my lip. I don’t have to smile with my sister. She knows.

“Leave your number in the tip jar!” She suggests, hands on her hips, fingers tapping.

I love her so much I could hug her forever and ever.

I pull out my business card. “Would this work? You think?” I ask. I look at my smile printed on the small piece of paper in my hand. “You gotta pen?”

I walk back into the bar. The hot air of the joint hits my face. The band’s playing still. I look at my musician briefly and then toss in my business card. I leave quickly.

Outside, I exhale the bar’s air from my lungs. “I did it, Cait!” I make a getaway as I squeal.

“You think he’ll call me?” I ask the night sky.

“Maybe.” My sister responds. “If he doesn’t, you’re no worse off than before.”

I think of the men who have asked me out and my “No, thank you’s” and not so direct “Uh, not now’s” and feel guilty. I think of an idea I read in a book L Is For Lion  By Annie Lanzillotto who got it from Soren Kierkegaard: The opposite of freedom isn’t slavery: it’s guilt. Being trapped in a jail of my own beliefs. Stunning. I listen to my sister’s heel tapping the rhythm of our walk home. I try to bat away the self doubt that continues to nibble at my cuticles and make my fingers bleed in protest.

I put my number in the jar. I did that. 

“Let’s walk a bit.” My sister suggests. I agree. It’s late, but those dancing heels of my sister need a place to click, and I felt like smiling in the quiet dark, thinking about the musician playing his tunes with his eyes on me.

May 20, 2013 at 4:14 am by Natalie Allen