Chapter 8: Volunteer
My first FFest as a volunteer, Mr. Mister was the first person I ran into- working at the gate. He left his post to smoke a cigarette and talk to me. By the time he found me later that night, I had met Mr. Felix; a sweet simple guy, a Charlie Brown, eager to be nice to me. I hung out with him and Mr. Pan, a small percussion specialist, who had until recently been in a serious long term relationship with another girlfriend. She had left him for another man. So, I didn’t see the harm in entertaining his interest in me. But all I wanted was for Mr. Mister to grab me and drag me back to his tent…
Instead we met near dawn, wandering. I took him back to my campsite to feed him peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. A random teenage boy joined us. Mr. Mister tossed a football with him, as I spread the fixings on the bread. I thought- is this what it might be like… someday?
One particularly drunken night at FFest, I decided to confront Mr. Pan. I told him that if he was interested in me, he could come wander and chat with me. As the evening progressed, he seemed to think we were making progress, as I was becoming ever more convinced that it was going no where. So, I stopped him and explained, “You can just kiss me. You’ll know, one way or the other. I have my doubts, but if you’re still curious, that’s the fastest way to find an answer.”
We walked around for another twenty minutes before he found a shady place, in the darkness of night, where he felt safe and brave enough to try a smooch. It was a light peck. No fireworks, and I thought he understood, but the next day, he still asked me to go to the river with him. I accepted the invitation but spent most of my time interrogating him and explaining how wrong we were for one another.
Sweet guy… too sweet for me.
After Fest, I dated Felix. Our dates were all adventures; hiking, kayaking, camping. He lived in New Jersey, and we would spend entire weekends together. It took a little while… eventually, I was willing to have sex with him. He was fun to make plans with, but I was not sure how he would fit into the rest of my life. During our dates, somehow I had met his mother and stepfather, as well as his sister and her husband. It was all so well-orchestrated to lead into a long term relationship that I did not want… He didn’t know it, but the first invitation he extended to me upon returning home from Fest would be our last date.
At the end of August, he had asked me to go see “We Were Promised Jetpacks” at Union Transfer, Halloween weekend. By the time that weekend arrived, I had decided we had gone as far as we could go, but I knew he had reserved the ticket for me. As I stood on the train platform, October 29th, in the snow, I thought, “Snow in October. This is a sign. I should stay home.” Even after the train service was cancelled for the night, I ignored my intuition, telling myself, “I can’t sit at home another night, watching my phone, waiting for someone who doesn’t want to see me.”
I drove into the city, dressed like a girl-scout, a costume that would make getting carded inevitable. I ate dumplings with Felix and his friend. His friend- who was his ride- who encouraged Felix to go home with me after the show and catch a train back to NJ the next day… I acquiesced, accepting that they had probably bought me two-too-many beers to drive home on my own at that point. I made him stop at the pub, where Jube and others were celebrating Halloween early with local musicians. I tried to introduce Felix. I watched him fail to fit in… Then I went home with him and tried to go to sleep, while he tried to seduce me-
That was when I heard it- My phone was ringing… I jumped out of Felix’s arms and answered it.
“Echo, you home?”
“Yeah.” My skin was burning from where Felix had been touching me.
“You wanna watch cartoons?”
I playfully told him no… hung up… Then panicked, texted him that the Folk Fest guy was in my bed. He texted back that he didn’t need to know. Devastated, I returned to bed in tears. Recoiling from Felix, I fell asleep in pain and despair.
It wasn’t as if Mr. Mister minded me seeing another guy… In fact, he frequently encouraged me. ”Did you make out with anyone lately?”
“Why not? There must be someone you wanna make out with-”
Enter Mr. Froyo, Mr. Mister’s former roommate. He was a great guitarist and a good teacher, but an absolute headcase. When I heard him play the guitar, I knew I would do anything to make him hang around and teach me what Mr. Mister never offered to teach me. This included falling into bed with him… twice. It surprised me that Mr. Froyo wanted my company and attention more than my body. It may have even offended me, if I had liked him at all. But, with my heart was simply unavailable. I had bargained my body for help with my music…
Some days he would show up for only an hour, just long enough to sneak a quick song out of me. He played and I sang- the original melodies and lyrics pouring out. I recall more than once feeling the same sensation I might have felt had he stopped by for a quickie sex session… exploited.
Then he started showing up at my place, high as a kite- on something other than weed. One time he handed me a nondescript pill and told me to take it… I was glad I had pocketed it instead, when the next thing I knew, he had taken me to the music shop where Mr. Mister taught lessons. Froyo seemed disappointed later, when I revealed I had not swallowed it.
The last straw came when one day, out of the blue, he called me and started an argument…
I was complaining of a headache, “I probably just need to take some Tylenol.”
“No one should take that shit. That shit should be illegal!”
“Doctor’s prescribe it…”
Following this conversation, he un-friended me on Facebook and never spoke to me again. Somehow, I think there was more to it than his fervent opinions on my choice of over-the-counter headache relievers, but he never told me- so, I will never know, nor do I particularly care.
We wrote at least five or six songs… that were never rehearsed, never performed in public… that are gone forever.