“The Jazz Players”
Listened to a live jazz band lost night. The old man next to me with the long scar on his neck asked if I were a student ad I said no and he said you look too young and I said I was forty and he just blewid out a burst of surprised air and said I was quite tall and would make a good model and I didn’t argue but actually allowed myself the joy of say maybe I would have and he asked if I danced and I said no and he said “oh, well that’s too bad for dancing” meaning, I suppose the dancing world had missed out for not having a woman like me in it.
And he told me about the different rhythms and accents in jazz and I said it’s like poetry and then it was his turn on the drums, his bent forward, arms appearing to jerk a bit as they struck at the snare and cymbals but he could riff and add a subtle color to the group and I pulled my feet onto the plush chair, knees to my chest and watched and felt the bass vibrate the chair and my body like and electric embrace, and the guitar plucked and slid around the scales and I was in love, I could have gone to bed with those sounds.
I listened from 7pm until they packed up and left at 9:30. I had no money to put in their tip can so I wrote a note. I said I had wanted to die, wanted to let the pills shut down the angry and pained brain, but I came to this coffee shop one day and they just happened to be playing and I listened with my back to the music and found something in the instruments I’d never heard. A freedom and lightness, a playful, powerful force that took me into a strange elevated place, like a mouse wrapped up in a hand, gently, raised to the lips for a kiss on the head and a finger-rub under the chin.
I signed it Ellee, and I hugged the drummer who said don’t die, tell me you won’t die and I couldn’t answer, couldn’t say I wouldn’t, though I didn’t want to. Not here.
They left and I stayed, still vibrating and beautiful, they had made me beautiful all night, and I stayed another half hour until the music loosened around me and I could move again and go home.
I was happy that night. A woman, vulnerable but intelligent talented creative and human. I was a human woman all night. I had nothing in my pockets – I had no pockets to have anything in. But I was not Frankenstein’s monster that night. I was not a stranded alien. I was elegant and classy and should have learned to dance.