Thursday, November 29, 2007

At Last, I Felt Like I Was Sitting at the Cool Table

Sometimes I eat lunch at the Indiana Memorial Union. A few times I have noticed that in the cafeteria by the Pizza Hut there is sometimes someone playing guitar and singing on a very small stage while everyone is eating lunch. There's just a guy, playing guitar and singing, and they pump the songs over the speakers over by Burger King and also all the way over by Sugar and Spice. When I have seen these dudes playing, it always kind of reminded me of what my version of hell might be like. Playing acoustic songs in a noisy cafeteria where pretty much nobody is paying attention and in the distance a woman with a Christmas tree hat works the register, ringing people up for Pizza Hut, sandwiches, and $1.69 bottles of Diet Coke. The song ends, nobody cares. It invokes a horror that many musicians are familiar with: insignificance coupled with total embarrassment.

Last night Mike Adams informed us that he was going to be that guy, the guy who plays at the Union during lunch time. He said that he was getting paid $50 to do it. I said that although $50 was a lot of money for less than an hour's work, I didn't think it was not enough for me to put myself through that kind of torture. I commended him on his bravery, especially since he knew what he was getting into, having experienced previous Dude With Guitar at the Union Lunch Concert Series (yes, apparently it is a series) concerts, and expounding to the uninitiated on how horrible it is for those involved. Sucks for the person playing, and also seems to suck for the people who accidentally sit near the "stage" when they get their burrito. It's just an odd, awkward clash of two worlds, the world of the singer-songwriter and the world of College Lunch.

So I went to see him play. When I first got there, the stage was set up, but there was nobody on it. I went somewhere and came back. When I came back, Mike Adams was there, looking like a lamb at the slaughter. There were a lot of people in front of the stage, but they were not there because of the stage, they were there because they wanted a place where they could sit down and eat their lunch.

I told him I was going to go do something and then come back when he was set up. The torture in the air was tangible. I fled like that pudgy white neighbor kid on The Cosby Show. What was that kid's name? Tobey or something?

On the way back to check and see how things were going, I apparently walked right past Jared Cheek as he was calling my name. Eventually I heard him, and he let me cut in line at Burger King. We got our food and walked over by Pizza hut where Mike was now playing. There were a bunch of my friends and cool people who had come out to see him, and we all sat down near each other and talked. We clapped when Mike's songs were over, which felt like a small triumph because every time I had seen someone play there before, there was nothing but awkward pain and the dull roar of college lunch when the songs ended.

It was weird. As I sat there, I felt like I was in high school and that I was sitting at the cool table or something. It didn't feel as crushingly awful as it had when I had seen other people play there before. When we clapped, it felt like it meant something. Mike's music was the backdrop to these funny conversations that people were having. Yes, we were eating lunch, but we were also brought together by a common friend, a friend who was about to be $50 richer. Justin Vollmar even said that he was thinking he might like to play there as well. I mean, after all, it is $50, and if you close your eyes, most of the sorostitutes actually do disappear. Sure, there was a young black fellow who yelled "Play Soulja Boy!" twice. Sure, there were people right in front of the stage who were facing the complete opposite direction, probably wondering to themselves why there's never enough marinara that comes with the breadsticks. All I know is that for me, it ended up being a good lunch experience.



1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hey, that's me in that bottom pic, dogg! I've been to a lot of these, and I just couldn't hate on this guy! I wanted to, I sincerely did! But I just couldn't!