But I really did enjoy the concert

you’re at a concert
with your therapist
his pregnant wife
and their close family friend
which sounds like the set up
to a pretty good joke
doesn’t it
only it is not a joke
it’s your Saturday night

you took the train
to a strange suburb
and a strange church
where everyone seems
to be a white-haired couple
or a soccer mom
or so your imagination
perceives

you don’t know anyone
you don’t even know
how you will get home
what you do know
is that you have to ask
for a ride

always
you seem to be dependent
on the kindness of strangers
and friends
always
you seem to be begging rides
and you wonder
if someday
the kindness will run out

but for now
your heart is pounding too fast
as you take a seat
take up the least amount
of possible space
on the planet
and read your book
not understanding a word
as the room fills up
with chattering strangers
who all seem to know each other

and you think
if the concert doesn’t start soon
my heart will explode
and they will find pieces of me
on their leafy Unitarian altar

at intermission
you see your therapist
his wife and friend
awkward introductions
conversation
their friend is chatty
bless her
you can be chatty too
but you worry you are snubbing his wife
who is quiet
and very pregnant
and suddenly all normal questions
are lost in the maze of your mind
when are you due?
do you know if it’s a boy or girl?

all you can think is
I am intruding on their personal time
people with kids
have no personal time ever
and rarely get an evening out
and here I am
like some sort of weekend conference call
to Tokyo
at 4:00 a.m.
chattering
in their personal space

after the concert
you circle slowly
to the back of the room
wondering
will the singer make an appearance
at the merchandise table
but to your surprise
she is already there

you thought you’d have more time
wait until the crowd thinned
get up your courage
hand her the envelope
you’ve been carrying in your purse
with four pages of poetry
carefully printed at Kinko’s
that afternoon
but now you are scared
what do I say
I forgot to rehearse
and I can’t make my ride wait
they want to go home
the perfect excuse
to act like chicken shit

up to now
time has moved slowly
every second an hour
45 rpm’s played at 33
but now the world speeds up
and you are in the car
chatting with their friend
trying to be funny
hoping we do not all die
on the expressway
because it will be your fault
somehow

blue line el stop
and you are shaking their friend’s hand
but she has called you Kelly
by mistake
and it distracts you just enough
that you are halfway out the door
when you see his wife’s hand
extended over her shoulder
but it’s too late
you are already out

great
you think
I am now rude and intrusive
and you keep saying
“thank you”
as if the phrase
like Dorothy’s red slippers
will send you home

instead
you run for the turnstile
and the little metal bar
clicks behind you
in a familiar
comforting
way

and you realize
you wish you had said
something nice
about your therapist
in front of his wife and friend
he is good at a job
that no one gets to see
and how rare
that our families
ever see us at work
they only see us lose our keys
or forget the milk
or accidentally eat the brownies
baked for the school party

but it’s too late now
and you can only hope
that your therapist
his pregnant wife
and their close family friend
do not think
you are a babbling idiot

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