"Hey, yo, I knocked on your door and I was gonna be all like 'TRICK OR TREAT,' but you weren't there," I say.
"Yeah, I can hear that you're saying words but I can't really hear what they are."
"You at a wild party or something?"
"I'm in the restaurant downstairs. And I am drinking alcohol. YES."
"Cool, I'm about to head down there, I'll probably run into you."
"I'm sure you're probably saying something relevant but I can't hear you at all because there are so many people making noise."
I look at myself in the mirror, decide that if anyone asks what I am I'll just tell them I am a hipster, and head downstairs.
"LAUREN!" The Obnoxious Hipster spots me from across the room. He's dressed as Sherlock Holmes and is throwing back beers with the guy that's probably a gay porn star. I awkwardly greet them and then drift over to the corner where The Poet and Tweaked Out Elvis Costello are standing.
The Poet is wearing a red shirt, a suit jacket, and red shoes. "I am a Soviet supporter," he informs me. "I AM A COMMUNIST!" I can't really tell if Tweaked Out Elvis Costello is wearing a Halloween costume or not. He's wearing a hat and a tie and a vest. I asked him about it and it turns out it's just how he dresses.
Tweaked Out Elvis Costello hands me a drink and informs me that he's going to go smoke a joint on the sidewalk. The Poet joins him and I am left to fend for myself in a room full of Halloween Hipsters. I end up talking to a singer/songwriter guy that I've been saying the words "Hey, we should jam" to for about a month. Except it takes me ten minutes to realize who he is, because he's wearing a really elaborate costume. Fortunately, The Theater Lover shows up (dressed as a dead ballerina, naturally) and says his name before I completely embarrass myself.
The Poet returns alone. "Did you lose Tweaked Out Elvis Costello?" I ask.
He laughs. "Oh, he's still out there. He gets really into smoking that shit."
"Yeah I know," I say. "He seems like he's on another planet sometimes."
The Poet smirks. "Tonight, I think he's in another galaxy."
Tweaked Out Elvis Costello finally returns, bringing the distinct aroma of pot along with him. I look at him and wonder why I haven't seen him or heard from him at all in the past week. Then I realize that I probably don't really want to know.
Singer/Songwriter Guy says something about how it would be cool to bring instruments down and play them on the stage at the back of the restaurant. Next thing we know, Tweaked Out Elvis Costello is hauling equipment into the room. A keyboard gets set up. A microphone. A drum machine. I offer to go get my keytar so we can have a legit jam session but no one is really interested.
Tweaked Out Elvis Costello takes the stage and plays his crazy music for a good twenty minutes. There are retro church pews facing the stage and at this point lots of people are sitting on them and listening. There's a big screen right behind the stage and trailers for b-rated horror films are playing on loop without sound. I am sitting next to a bald man dressed as the gnome from the Travelocity commercials. The Poet sits behind me. "Do you have any idea what this kid is playing?" he asks.
"I think it's something he wrote," I say. "Or maybe it's Gershwin. Sometimes he plays things he writes and then they turn into Gershwin and then they turn back into originals."
"Wow," says The Poet. "Things are happening on other galaxies."
Finally, Tweaked Out Elvis Costello stops playing. He announces that he's not really sure what he's been playing for the past ten minutes and takes a seat on a church pew. It was at that point that approximately three people simultaneously asked me to play a song.
I am not a solo performer. I've always wanted to try it, but the thought terrifies me. I've never really gotten up and played songs I've written without having Ryan there to hide behind. But on this night, for some reason or another, I jumped onto that stage and I belted out a song about the end of the world.
When I finished the song, I looked up and realized that more people had come over to listen. I was going to go sit back down, but someone yelled "PLAY ANOTHER SONG!" So I played a song about zombies (in honor of Halloween).
They yelled for another. I asked if they wanted something campy and stupid or something not as campy and less stupid. They yelled for campy and stupid, so I played this one:
About halfway through, I began feeling like a complete retard. But people laughed. I played one more song after that and then offered the stage to Singer/Songwriter Guy.
"That was such a rock star performance!" proclaimed The Poet as I sat down. The Gnome gave me the thumbs up. I had somehow managed to tap into that rock and roll version of myself up there and I had done it completely solo. I was strangely proud of myself, not to mention a little shocked that I was able to do that so naturally.
When Singer/Songwriter Guy was done entrancing everyone with his poetic lyrics (oh man, I felt a little dumb sandwiching my quirky Amanda Palmer-meets-They Might Be Giants indie rock crap between him and Intergalactic Gershwin...), Tweaked Out Elvis Costello got back onstage. I went to go get some apple cider.
The owner of the restaurant met me by the cider and gave me a huge high five. "Lauren, that was awesome!" he exclaimed. Like most people, he was probably a little surprised I had that in me. I'm 87% sure that I'm going to be working in his restaurant when it finally opens to the public. And weirdly enough, I think my little impromptu performance just solidified my chances of being officially hired.
After Tweaked Out Elvis Costello ran out of steam again, a guy in an ugly sweater butchered something that sounded like rag time. Then someone yelled for me again, so I went up and played an instrumental medley of some of my "Goat Man" stuff followed by a weird song about icebergs. Then I noticed the restaurant was closing, so we packed up the equipment and called it a night.
The Gnome approached me and told me about how much he loved my song about giardia. "I had giardia once," he said. "It was terrible. It was like there was a blender in my stomach!"
"Oh man, that's bad," I say. "I thought I had giardia once. It ended up just being some other, more obscure parasite, but that's what inspired the song."
"Ew, yeah, those parasites are rough. They weren't ever really sure if I actually had giardia or not, but they had to prescribe me like, chlorine to make it finally go away."
Maybe next time I do a short set, I'll have a little more class and choose not to play a catchy song about explosive diarrhea.
But overall, I felt fairly on top of the world at the end of the night. I watched Tweaked Out Elvis Costello and The Poet smoke a cigarette on the curb for a little bit, but eventually got bored with that and went back to my room. I had a text on my phone from my friend Cyndi and I texted her back telling her I had just played an impromptu solo set. She replied with the following text:
"good things are wild & free. essentially, you rock. we can do all things through christ/god/jesus (buddha. the prophet. allah. lady gaga. lykke li. alcohol) who gives us strength. i'm proud of you!"
It was a text that made me grin.
And with that, I should probably go to bed. Happy Halloween, amigos. Over and out.