I feel enveloped in sticky, amber glow of wary, seedy insider benevolence.
Colfax is the kind of street that gets you.
Last night, armed with nothing save my cheap plastic folding table and my keyboard wrapped up in a cheap plastic bag (it had rained earlier that day, pretty heavily, too) I made my way down to Lions' Lair, which is the sort of establishment which has always for whatever reason eluded my eye and defied description. Maybe because of its ancient potential. It's an anachronism, caught between a liquor store and a convenience store, a relic which persists despite all logic to the contrary.
I had heard that there was an open mic at 9:00 P.M. going by the lounge's website so I left at around 8:35. As I hear the lounge is notoriously exclusive and secretive, and certainly wouldn't let me in without an ID. The website even stated explicitly to bring an ID. I have found over the course of the past year, however, that with the proper mindset, an inhuman serving of willpower, the impossible can be made possible. I have attempted to make connections in the most unlikely of places, forge bonds with people who two years ago I would never have thought to mess with. I am determined to penetrate the ambiance of the nocturnal consciousness.
The website displays prominently a photo of the lounge circa 1975, although rather than the familiar drug store there's some kind of gothic theatre marquee with indecipherable text. Staring at Colfax mere decades ago is like staring into a parallel universe. Not the past, but a reality in which buildings you never knew existed exist against all odds next to buildings you know do exist. These photos somehow look doctored. I'm sure, regardless, that if I were to visit the Colfax I knew when I was 8, back in 2010, it would be extremely different. Colfax is as chaotic as the volcanic surface of Io. Every month a new building, every week an old building demolished.
I've found the solution to IDs. Get X'ed. Get the sharpie out, I've told all the bouncers. Mark my hands with the occult character, because I'm coming in here for the music or the conversation or whatever else you've got going on, believe you me I have no interest in downing any of your alcohol, alcohol tastes like piss water as far as I'm concerned, pure fermented filth. Music is the syrup of the soul.
I approached the lounge like a smooth predator, rounded the corner around the unnaturally bright glare of Aladdin Liquors toward the dimly lit entrance. There were two bouncers, one scrawny with a mustache and one more beefy, somewhat Hispanic, thick arms crossed and an ironclad determination. A wall of muscle, I had no doubt that if someone tried to slip past them he could easily throw them to the curb. The other guy was likely the more analytical, to process information and remember faces. An effective pairing, the only remedy to which would be smooth conversation.
I've been working on that, too, the perfect method of asking politely, speaking politely, in saccharine dulcet tones which put the recipient off guard with just how understanding and well-spoken they are. No flack, no worry, all smooth comprehension and rolling with the punches. It comes as fast as a Pepto-Bismol tablet now, flows from my lips like a neverending ribbon, half the time I nearly make myself vomit with how sugary I can get with these sorts of people to leverage what I want.
I asked them if I could come in. Whenever they say they'll need to see an ID I become nervous, jittery, I lock up for a moment, knees start to buckle and I question what the Heck I'm doing out there and why I'm carrying all my equipment, I should go home. Then the initial shock fades and I ask if I can get X'ed. The brawny guy says no, unfortunately not, according to policy, etc. as the thinner guy lets some acquaintances in with no questions asked and pats them on the back as they enter. and here I am, looking entirely foreign to this thing, as out of place as a condiment in the spice rack. I hesitate once again, tell him I'm there for the Open Mic and just want to hear some kicking live music. He hesitates, then, and darts inside, says that he'll ask the owners. I'm giddy with anticipation.
I spend the next five or so minutes peering inside through the outer window, which is deliberately coated in refractory squares which distort the image of the interior. Secretive shadowy interior, a hive of enigma. Some orange hues permeate the glass, murmurs from within where they're all ready for a fantastic evening of live music, behind an amateurish whiteboard with upcoming events scrawled onto it with an Expo marker. And me cut off from that bizarre world by a thick pane, as well as my irrational reluctance to bother attaining an ID. I may as well be Amish at this point.
The guy re-emerges and tells me that they're unusually busy tonight, that signups were a whole hour ago at 8:00 P.M. I giggle slightly, tell him that this has all been a huge misunderstanding and error on my part, given how their website only listed 9:00 as the time of the open mic and didn't say when sign-ups would be. But I understand, I say. That's completely understandable, of course they're busy and the last thing I would want would be to barge in on their fun and force myself into the schedule when I'm this late. He shrugs.
He says, though, that the owners told him to tell me that I can come back next week to play as the first or second act of the night, me and my golden keyboard, and that they'll X me, but tonight it's way too busy and besides that I'm late, and unless I'm playing they don't think they can fit me in. This is completely understandable, I reckon. he apologizes as I turn tail and retreat the way I came, though I tell him there's absolutely nothing to apologize for and I will be back next week, that he can count on it, even if I have to rearrange my entire calendar I'll take advantage of their generosity.
And I will, too.