Sunday, April 13, 2008

A Night in the Freak Pit

David. Chad. Susan B. Anyone else who has a hand in the nominating process. I bring to you a special case. I realize that the vortex providing us with temporary access to the Freak Pit only swarms around camp on warm, Appalachian nights, but something happened to me yesterday that made me question its properties and barriers. I realize I am taking a risk in mentioning the Freak Pit outside of a concrete dorm room. Away from hastily arranged chairs and decorative lights found bought from TG&Y, but I beg you to listen to my story.

Understand that I see many f'd up things in my life. I have seen a man with a back-pack at 7 in the morning laughing and screaming, punching a garbage can. I have seen a man in pink short-shorts crouched with his arm up the opening to a vending machine. I encountered an old man with a giant truck entirely covered in apples whose only comment was that no one could ever take pictures of his apple truck. I didn't mention these things. Then there was last night. Not since the emergence of the Werecat, I tell you, have things gotten so strange, so fast.

I was recovering from my Friday, late-night drunk. Sitting in the spare room, playing Winning-11. Caitlin, who has the room next door, asked if her outfit was appropriate for going to see her boyfriend's band. She asked me if I would like to come along. Free. Music. Saturday. Sure. It was a small cafe on the second floor of a building in Kitaoji. It was a private party and the owner's wife had made sandwiches for everyone. The room was tiny. There were maybe 20 people. Half of those were playing music that night. Caitlin's boyfriend is Japanese. A small guy with a perm. Quite the looker and completely aware of it. He has to go to school to become a monk because his family owns a temple. His band is all Japanese guys with a girl singer who translates everything for me even when I am speaking Japanese. She had a pink, fuzzy sweater and doesn't figure in this story at all. Because of Caitlin there were about 5 foreigners there, including me. Everyone else seemed to be in a band, or associated with the cafe. As the first band started playing, three older guys playing cover tunes with one of their 9 year old sons on guitar, one of Caitlin's Japanese friends showed up. Her name was Ayako and she looked very Kyoto. Very artsy. Tall and thin with horn-rimmed glasses and multiple smocks and sweaters. Her shoes were some form of odd leather work. After the first band was finished I talked to her. She carried a sketch pad and told me that it was hard for her to work because she has many mood swings. She has an apartment were sometimes rust comes out of the pipes and most of the pople she has dated are weird. I should point out that her Japanese is very hard for me to follow, and that, although looking odd, she could very easily be considered pretty. She told me that her school had been bad and there were lots of bullies.

Caitlin's boyfriend's band began to play some jazz inflected cover tunes and Ayako began to draw in her sketch pad. She wasn't amazing, but definitely talented. The band's singer was good, but over the top and over confident. She was in love with her English ability. They were all good musicians however. Did I mentioned that they named their band after me for the night? Go figure. The band took a break and an odd young man in a suit who had recently graduated from the Buddhist University got up and played a song about washing dishes at the ramen shop. He then played a Theremin he had just bought.

The band got back up and played some disco covers and some R&B. They finished their set and the owner said, "But we have 2 more hours. Somebody play some music." Caitlin's confident singer friend had showed up in the meantime. She has orange hair and no shame and it was clear that she was going to sing. As they were lining up who would play. Ayako said to the man who had played the Teremin, "I sing." A small lump of worry formed in my stomach. I could feel something coming down the road. The girl with orange hair did quite a good rendition of some Janis Joplin and Mr. Big. Oh, the Mr. Big. The band started setting back up and I could see Ayako looking at the microphone as if it were her assigned turn and everyone else looking at her like, "What?" The band tuned. Ayako picked up the mic and began saying "Lah. Lah. Ah. Ah. Lah. Lah." This went on for about 2 minutes. I got very nervous and began muttering, "Talent show. Talent show. I can't take this." I turned to the guy next to me, "This could be very good, or really bad." The band started playing a sort of jazz-funk thing. Ayako began singing in a strange monotone falcetto. A table of older Japanese people, drinking beer, looked unsure of how to react. The band looked down and concentrated on their instruments. Ayako's high-pitched chanting began to take the form of a story. A story about her high-school. Somebody at her school had kicked the lockers, "Dom! Dom! Dom!" She yelled. "Peace is better. Quiet is better. Why are people outside always talking?" Her voice pitched up and down somewhere between a wail and a chant. There were words. There was a story. There was kind of a melody, but there was mostly an effect. A strange, strange effect. The man who had played with the Theremin early had been funny as a crazy act. The act had been usurped now. We were knee-deep in real life crazy. "Even the president of the soccer club was a bad person!" She screamed. Now she was punctuating the story with high-pitched screaming. I was sweating ans staring at the floor. Sometimes I was laughing uncomfortably. When I tried to look at Ayako she stared straight into my eyes and I knew this was no joke. This was the first 5 minutes. From this point on you could see the band looking for ways to end, but Ayako having no intention of being done. The only line I can remember from the second 5 minutes, amid the screaming and the booming and the yelling was, "And even the class president got dragged off to the courthouse! People are terrible" "Oh no. Not the class president." I said to no one in particular, hoping there was an exit I could slip out of, but knowing there wasn't. Finally, the band conspired to end the song, but the audience had turned. The old people were cheering Ayako on. Some people were dancing. I was bright red and my palms were sweating. Things had gotten weird for real. Ayako came and set back down. She was composed and quiet. "Was that a true story?" " Yes," she said. "That was some of the story. There were also two 2 meter tall twins who played basketball and punched me in the head. Now they are famous, but I hate them." I got called up to play "Sweet Home Chicago." And a strange session with the Theremin guy. The master demanded that someone play "Loving You." Ayako returned and sang a monologue about hating karaoke to the tune. At some point amid Eric Clapton covers and Japanese versions of Monkees' songs, the evening ended. On the cab ride home with Caitlin and Ayako I asked if she had gotten it all out. "About a sixth." She said. All of it would be too much. After dropping Ayako off, Caitlin told me they had met at a concert where Ayako had been dancing by herself and then biting the microphone. Before getting out of the cab, she had told us that rust comes out of the faucet in her sink sometimes and that the businesses in the neighborhood have big shutters on their front windows that make a lot of noise.

Submitted for your approval.

2 comments:

Ham Dippin...Salty said...

Since the Freak Pit hungers because it has been so long since it has been I say that is ripe full of freak.

The Morholt said...

let's hope the non-cinderblock dorms of ww can conduct the arcane energies necessary for the induction ceremonies.

attempting to silence the voices in my head.