April 1 2013
It was my first night out on a weeknight this year. I had checked the weather reports about 10 times that day. Each time it said it will start to rain about 3 am and though the temperature sounded a little low, by the time it was time to go, it wasn’t so cold. So I went out, even a little late. I went and scouted the area. There were a few places to sit and so I decided to do it. I set up across from the old Lush store. That was my favorite place, it was like a natural stage, and right in front of all the action, acround the corner from the popular disco, Cocoon, and the way many people get in and out ( usually drunk out) and the keranpang man (an egg baked into a muffin like thing) but then they decided to build on that site. Anyway, you have to adapt, that’s what life is. Just when I was starting to like this new place, it started raining. Also I heard a racket from down the street. I wasn’t sure what it was, but when I got up to check it out, I saw there was another loud band down there.
Though I was interested in the other band, I was more interested in playing. I moved down the street (closer to the other band). I started playing and it was pretty nice except that there was a bar with its music blaring just next to me. I was dry but the other sounds bothered me. I decided to go ahead anyway. I attracted a few people and anyway it was fun to watch the parade of young partyers. Some were drunk, some could hardly walk in their heels and tight dresses and jeans. Some completely didn’t hear the music, some ignored it, some had their interest piqued, some stopped and listened, and some even gave money. Sometimes they would throw the money in the hat in a dismissive way , others like an offering. And if a young student gives you money, you know they really like it because generally they don’t have any.
Who should come up but Ripley. Who’s Ripley? Maybe the coolest dude on the planet. When I ask him how he is he tells me he just came from a 4 ½ hour meeting. I only regret that I didn’t show him proper respect. I wanted to play, but after a while I started to appreciate the great talk we were having. Ripley is a very handsome buff guy. He’s got fashion too, but its alternative fashion. He wears a stylish Van Dyke beard. You cant even wear a style like that unless you are cool. Its like you have to earn the right to do that. Its like his name Ripley. Ive never asked him if that’s his real name but it fits him because you cant think of it without thinking . “believe it or not.” After pleasantries are exchanged , we talk about my spot and complain about the speaker. Ripley takes care of business and accesses my situation and informs me that I could be in a better place. So he suggests down the street away from that damned speaker, and helps me move. I ask him to join me some time for some street music and we dance around that for a while. I guess its not his thing. He suggests his rooftop but I tell him I like the street, more possiblilties. Probably though I have to realize that Ripley has so many better offers, like realy gigs in clubs, festivals etc, but graciously he doesn’t mention that. I play a little and then we talk a bit. He tells me about his new “investment” He’s “partners” in a club. He tells me how fucked up they are and I tell him he should just take over. “I did”, he says, “tonight.” So he had been biding his time seeing what would happen and tonight he told them what was wrong with everything. So the 4 ½ meeting was a triumph for him. I had assumed any 4 ½ meeting is a falilure cause you had to sit through it but I never thought that it might be a victory if you were taking over and doing things the cool way. IF anyone could make a cool club it would be Ripley. So after about 30 minutes I ask him if he wants to get his drum and play now and he says he cant he has a girl waiting for him in his apartment and she’s been waiting for 3 hours. How cool is that and how he honors me by thinking I’m worth keeping his girl waiting. I guess another ½ hour won’t matter much. That’s Ripley the coolest guy on the planet.
About that time I decided to go play with the other band. I walked over. It was a bit of dilemma whether I should put my stuff away or not. It seemed a little presumptuous to walk up to some guys with my horn out, what if they didn’t want me to play with them. In the end I decided to do it anyway, because I didn’t want to go to the trouble or waste the time. So I just walked up to the guy. He was sitting at a keyboard under an awning (it was still raining) and singing some song. He was young and well dressed and I guess good looking except he seemed to think so too and his arrogance was palpable. He seemed like he was on-stage in front of 10,000 people instead of on a wet street in front of one or two people for moments at a time. But even when there was someone there, he wouldn’t look at them, it was like he was looking past them to the crowds beyond or the really cool people who would be there at any minute or someday anyway. I just sat on a cinderblock ledge about 5 meters away and chimed in. He looked over and gave me an indulgent smile. My playing was great but he didn’t acknowledge it at all , he was too busy being a star. But it was so good I couldn’t resist playing another, even when the band came back. They were the same way, like “what’s he doing here”, even though I had more class than all of them put together. No class not, they had style coming out of their pores, just not a great amount of musical talent. But they did have something I liked a lot, their song selection. It was cool, they were playing old Korean songs that I didn’t know at all. I loved them and again I think added so much.
Then Sandra called. Ok who is Sandra? She’s this beautiful charming young student who was friendly and said she wanted to talk with me, even though she has a boyfriend. So I kept sending her messages now and then and she always answered so I answered. Finally tonight I sent her a late night message and asked her what she was doing. Studying she messaged back. Do you want to meet later. We went through some confusions and then finally agreed to meet at 1 am. I was surprised and doubtful, but here she was calling. So I went to get Sandra, and there she was in all her youthful beauty and innocence. But not dumb, no very smart, in fact a civil engineering student. And smart about life and kind too. My view was hey she would probably love to get a taste of the street musicians’ lifestyle. So when I met her instead of suggesting that we go to eat or a coffeeshop, I told her, comeon wer are going over to the band. As she walked she walked close, as if she was used to linking arms and being affectionate. I was torn between grabbing her arm and touching her as I talked or not touching her at all. I didn’t want her to think I was a playboy. I was interested in being her friend and being open with her. I wasn’t sure how she felt being there, I pretended that I had bought seats for a concert and directed her to the porch across the street from the band. I told her it was 100 dollar ticket, and then made a big show of getting her something to sit on , which impressed her even though it was just some pieces of cardboard. So we sat and listened for awhile and talked and it was nice.I made fun of the band and told her what I thought of them. I think she was taken with the physical attractiveness of the band. I was worried though that it was too cold, so I asked her if she would rather go inside. She seemed happier with that but I wanted to play one song for her, so I took my horn. Then I did something surprising. I just played the song from where I say next to her instead of standing with the band. She was amazed because she didn’t know I played and because it sounded great. For fun I let her play. I showed which button to hit while I blew. She couldn’t make any meaningful phrase and got embarraseed but to be fair she was only controlling the note, not the start or stop or 100 other things. I finished off and as I was putting my horn away the band started playing another great song. We cant leave on that so I started to play. Sandra told me to go stand by the band and it was really hopping there for a while. I encouraged Sandra to dance. A few other people had walked up so now we had an audience of 5 or 6 people including a Korean woman who was alone and seemed extremely friendly. There was another guy who was dressed up like Michael Jackson and was dancing in a very Michael style. He had a bottle of soju with him but I think his strangeness came from other places, perhaps biochemical. Sandra started dancing and was looking at me with an amazed look, it was that “You just blew my mind” look. At first I didn’t know what to do with that, I was tempted to take it the romantic route, but I thought better of it. Here was a beautiful young woman who was adoring me, wasn’t that enough? If there is anything that has hurt my chances with woman is that my timing is messed up. So I played it like a friend, and “she was lucky to know me” style. And actually feeling that way was much better anyway, much less stressful and I was getting the love anyway. So I finished the song and asked her how she was doing. Thinking., about what? She looked at me seriously,” what I have to do tomorrow and my future”. In other words her mind was wandering and she couldn’t stay out all night. I took the hint and told her I would walk her home. Again I felt honored that this young woman would stay up late, go out in the rain, and agree to meet me.
Under her small umbrella we walked toward her apartment. I tried to understand her living situation. It seems like she lives with a roommate in bunk beds. Its someone she didn’t know before. They are not close friends “yet”.
As we were about to leave I needed some reassurance. Did you have fun? “Yes,” she says , “it was great” . Its hard for me to read her face. I think she was deeply moved and excited by doing something so different but she showed it in her own way. What was the most exciting thing you did tonight, I asked her. She started to say, the last song where I danced , but I cut her off. No you did something greater. She couldn’t guess. You played a saxophone tonight. How many people can say they’ve done that? 1 out of a hundred maybe? She burst into an excited laugh. She was cuter than a puppy really. I asked if she wanted to meet for lunch and she happily agreed. We both finished at 1. Do you have plans in the afternoon She asked me in a very nice way if we could meet later at 130. I agreed. And so I headed home in the rain. When I got home, I counted my cash, 7 dollars (but 2 of it from Ripley), but all in all it was a pretty good night.