Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Afternoon and Evening

"How's your wife?" she asks.  "Doin’ poorly, we have some more tests next week."  They bow their heads.  A man orders a glass of wine.  I order a beer, she indicates a glass, and I nod.  They begin discussing football matches and the windy weather, why the bartender is working on her day-off – she explains she's covering for someone.  A man nudges me, gestures to my adjacent stool, his long gray beard brushes against me as he sits.  There are other seats in the bar, but he wants to be where the conversations are to be had.  The conversation shifts to politics.  An old woman three stools down sets down her drink and chimes in aggressively.  They go back and forth.  A man slams his fist, punctuating his point. The bartender sets out peanuts, things subside. She orders another pilsner.  I attempt ordering a wheat beer, it comes with a lemon and a strange plastic stick with a star shaped base.  The man next to me says it’s for pressing the lemon on the bottom of the glass.  "If you wish. It is your choice."  He attempts to discuss the weather with me – proof of our likeness as people.  The bar boy walks in, whistling.  Everyone looks down into their drinks.  The heavier man on the other side of the gray beard orders another wine, his lips smack together between sips.  Two men come in and play billiards (not pool).  This is proper billiards with three balls and no pockets.  The cook sings loudly in an Italian melody of ♪la da da dee da♪.  I try ordering a darker beer. She asks; "You want cold, or not so cold?"  I request not so cold.  She pulls a bottle from a wine rack type shelf.  I pour my Westmalle Trappits Dubbel into a goblet of a glass.  "When it’s too cold you can't taste it." she says.  I can taste it. Two English couples walk-in. I can understand what they're saying.  It displeases the imagination.  I order a glass of Three Roses Bourbon, my way of finding an old friend in a far off land.  I depart from my Dutch friends.  I leer at the English.

Dissonant resonates throughout the end of their third song.  A small room, with a handful of Tuesday evening music lovers, we applaud their performance in the lonely room.  His afro-Cuban beats, on a box drum called a Cajon, pulse the life blood through musical arteries.  The trio is disappointed to learn they will not be paid.  Having set up already, they play a set.  We congregate in the narrow room and drink rich Belgium ale.  The bartender speaks of having been to the village where the beer is brewed.  I commiserate with the drummer on the poor state of financial support for musicians in Amsterdam.  We had met two days before when his bike was upside down, the back wheel seized by a bungie-cord spun tight around the tire and fender.  I stopped and offer him my pocket knife.  Once freed, he mentions the need to get to rehearsal.  He invites me to his next show.  Sometimes it’s good being the go-to-guy.  He plays a Latin beat on a cow bell that is attached to a base-drum like kick pedal.  Sitting on his Cajon, his beats drive his self-composed music for the trio.  They jam, similar to a shitty Humboldt jam band, but in a way that isn't repulsive.  They are each professionally trained musicians, weaving expertly through complicated chord progressions and time signature changes.  I hearken back to years of education in music theory and chord structure.  They pour salt into my wounded heart, broken from my loss of muscle memory needed to play with such virtuosity; I could not stand on stage with these gentlemen. I order a glass of Irish whiskey and drink it down.  They continue with their syncopate rhythms. It’s erotic. The night is maturing like a fine wine, subtlety changing in its complexities, adding flavor through the additional bodies filling the small space.  I order another Belgian ale.  The cow bell rings out from his foot pedal.

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