I arrived right as The Ballet was about to start playing, the perfect moment, since really, the only thing bad about going to shows by yourself is that time in between the sets, when no band is playing and you have no place to focus your eyes, your attention, and your aloneness is all the more striking, or at least, in your state of self-consciousness, you will be convinced that it is.
They started to play and I had another beer, another because I had already had a couple before leaving my house, and I sipped from this beer, this Miller Lite, the special, and started to do as I had planned, to watch Craig for a good hour or so, but I got distracted because the music was really good and it took control of my attention and I watched the lead singer, this boy Greg, sing his lyrics and watched him play his guitar and soon found my focus, my attention placed on him.
And there weren't that many people there for the show, which seemed too bad and also good. Bad, because this band was really amazing, was one of the better sounding live bands I have heard in a long time and they deserved lots of attention. Good, because I felt really privileged, like I was getting to see a really amazing pop band in such an intimate setting. I imagined how I would feel getting to see Belle and Sebastian or Final Fantasy in this small room with this small crowd, and realized that I was really privileged to be part of this moment.
And I stared at Greg, got wrapped up in these songs about crushes and boys and thought about my own crushes, thought about boys, and soon found myself developing a pretty intense crush for this singer. And he was looking out into the audience, focusing his eyes on a point in the middle of the audience, and at times, even though he probably wasn't, I was convinced that Greg was looking at me, directly at me, and I could only look back at him for a short bit, before I would get shy, before I would get too self-conscious, feel too stalkerish (even though I think you are supposed to watch the lead singer) and would turn away and try to focus my attention on the cello player.
I drank another beer watching them, and found myself fairly drunk and fairly caffeinated and in love with words, and soon, I sort of stopped listening attentively, and soon found myself getting lost in verbal fits, trying to describe my love of Craig to myself, to put into words, why it is that I love these fragile, thin boys, and I think I will spare you this analysis right now, but I will throw out some key phrases for you: subversion of traditional standards of male virility, Charlotte's Web like love of the runt of the litter, privileging this beauty as a means of asserting that all humans are beautiful, every piglet of the litter, this wisp of beauty, his fragileness, smallness, is ours, ours writ large. And this is how my mind works sometimes. I kept wishing I had a pen and pad of paper with me because my mind was making wonderful connections that thrilled me so much, and I was excited for the first time in a long time, and excited (and sad - the two often seem tied) about boys for the first time in an even longer time.
And despite this excitement, the fact that I could have easily stayed to say hello and try to chat with one or both of these boys, instead as soon as their set was over, that self-consciousness again set in and I had no place to focus my attention, my eyes, my ears. I was nervous and didn't know where to look, what to do with my hands. I went to the bathroom, and then looked at the text messages on my phone and then shyness taking over, decided that I could not wait for the next band to come on, could not wait for The Ballet to finish packing up their gear, and I put on my sweatshirt and then my jacket and then headed back out into the night, feeling like I was leaving something I shouldn't have, but not really having the power to do anything about that.
On the train ride back home, I sat in one of those small, two-seat benches next to this man playing on his cellphone. Our elbows were touching so lightly. And again verbal associations raced through me head. Sister, car trip, sharing the backseat, and there, there would be a shoving of elbows to claim this space, but here, so polite, and we rest our elbows, touching, the slightest contact, hoping it will make the other person uncomfortable enough to shift their position, the potential of an erotic reading of these elbows making one or the other of us uncomfortable. I was uncomfortable, and getting strangely horny, but not enough so to move my elbow. I texted on my phone also and looked at the male bodies around me, desiring pretty much all of them. I got off the train and really wanted chips. There was not one open bodega on the way home.
The chips, in case you did not get it, are a metaphor for something else.