Chapter 5: Less is More
Beautiful. Mr. Spectacle was simply a pretty man. I admitted once to him that he reminded me of the characters from Mall Rats- the two best friends. He was good-looking like the main beau, smart and funny like the sidekick who ends up hosting the Tonight Show. In the end, I barely got to know the guy at all.
The lesson I learned right before I started to pursue him was simple: Don’t ask questions… as much as possible. I knew he worked sound. He was drummer. He knew many of the same people I knew.
We met at a benefit for my astrologer. She was the first person to offer me a gig- One song. The venue was gorgeous. A giant used book emporium. An old warehouse outside, it looked like more of a converted barn on the inside. Walls of books, a labyrinth. Her paintings and creations spread around the inner sanctum with silent auction clipboards affixed beneath them. I had very recently discovered the venue, watching some amazingly talented friends releasing their newest CD in the space. I found it was quite an honor to sing on its stage.
And of course, Mr. Mister was performing… So, my accompaniment would already be present. Perfect.
Charlie was Mr. Mister’s lead guitarist. When I asked for help translating the mess in my head into songs, he was the one who offered to come jam it out at my apartment. Full of apprehension, I relied on the advice of my adopted uncle Eugene.
“Yevhen,” He told me, “But no one gets that shit. Whatever. Eugene. Fucking Americanization.”
He had lived in the U.S. for over thirty years and had nearly no accent, but he spoke in a definite syntactic dialect. From the Ukraine, he initially mistook my mixture of Asian features with pale skin and light colored hair for Russian. Nevertheless, our connection was instant. Although he would never say it, and it would take me many years to figure it out, we would have been lovers in another life… or father and daughter… or something other than the strange friendship that happens between a woman in her late twenties and a man in his early fifties.
“Zhenya, Zhenechka for short.” He gave me a Ukranian name.
“Zhenya,” He told me, “You can’t think about whether this man is attracted to you. Of course he is attracted to you! You are an attractive woman. Look at you!”
I tried to interrupt him with my flood of worries, but he was not ready to listen. He handed me a piece of bread and continued chopping zucchini and peppers. “You channel it into the music. Whatever you feel, whatever he feels; it will create a beautiful sound.”
Uncle Eugene wasn’t wrong. Although Charlie could not play the music I sang to him, I was able to form melodies and lyrics over the instrumental guitar pieces that I had heard him play at the open mic many times, while half of the bar retired outside for a cigarette. -Two songs; they were beautiful. One of them was the song I was to sing at my astrologer’s benefit.
Ananda was at that open mic that first night… At that time I did not know she was an astrologer. She was sitting at the bar all evening quietly. I may have forgotten her entirely had she not had a British accent and a broken leg.
We bumped into one another at several shows over the next several months. At one of them, when I was particularly despondent, we would begin talking. Ananda told me she wrecked her ankle in a biking accident and had to quit her job as a waitress. ”I think it will be okay though. It has to be. I will support myself with my astrology and my Reiki.”
“Yeah, it’s great!”
“What is it?”
“It is difficult to explain. Light touch. It does wonders.”
I paused. ”I don’t really do astrology, but I’ll try Reiki… See what it is.”
She was surprised by the quickness of my offer, “Yeah? Wonderful… You really don’t have to pay me. We could barter.”
I was working full time at a nursing home. “Ananda, usually I would, but I really don’t have any time to make anything worth trading. What I do have right now is cash, and I think that’s what you need.”
It was agreed. We made an appointment to meet after my weekly therapy appointment the following week.