Monica Bielanko
That's What She Said
Just A Junk Drawer Dream
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Playing Geometry Equations

We were driving to Wal-Mart for our weekly shopping trip last Sunday. Incidentally, have you been to Wal-Mart on a weekend lately? It's like the bar scene from Star Wars. Confused? Just watch the video, you'll know what I mean. In fact "Star Wars Bar" is our code word for I-cannot-deal-too-many-people-am-FREAKING-OUT-MUST-LEAVE-NOW! One or the other of us will just look at each other and hiss "Star Wars Bar!" through clenched teach and we know it's time to go. Some people have safe words for when the sex play gets too kinky. We have a Wal-Mart word for when the shopping action gets too hot and sweaty and if you have to edge around one more oxygen tank-sporting, thousand pound American trawling the aisle in a Wal-Mart scooter you are certain to lose your shit. But hey. You try pushing a watermelon out of your torn vagina and then tell me Wal-Mart weekending ain't about as wacky as it gets in the immediate aftermath.

So there we were, piled into the car, ready to brave the Star Wars Bar that is the weekend Wal-Mart experience, Violet and I held hostage by Serge's jazzy listenings. After more than a decade writing songs for his band, years on the road where sincere fans desperately press their own music into his hands, dozens of bullshit music critics espousing snotty opinions likely based on simmering anger over their own failed musical aspirations, understandably, Serge doesn't really enjoy listening to your standard lyrical music fare. Oh, he's coming around. He likes my new favorite Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, he'll listen to a couple things here and there but if he's alone in the car you can bet he's grooving to his safe, lyric-less, jazzy tunes.

I can appreciate jazz as much as I can appreciate a musical endeavor of any kind but I don't enjoy listening to it so much. I find myself chasing the music, grabbing hold of it long enough to watch it slip through my grasping fingers. I can't even find a spot to tap my toe or snap a finger and just when I think I've found a rhythm they switch up the works on me and then I spend the next thirty seconds or so trying to get a beat and listening and it's just all so goddamn exhausting I give up. Jazz, to me, sounds like someone trying their damnedest to play a complex geometry equation.

Also, jazz playing softly in the background makes me feel like a douche. Like I should drunkenly stroll around, ice clinking in my gin & tonic, upper lip curled in permanent derision whilst I pose aesthetically in windows. As candles flicker poetically in the gloaming I will sip my cocktail, nod intelligently to the jazzy beat, retire on my black leather couch with chrome armrests, swirl my icy tonic and ruminate on the meaning of life.

Generally Serge and I compromise when together and listen to old country, bluegrass, oldies or classic rock. No jazz. But for whatever reason last Saturday, like elevator music, the jazz faded to my background and I didn't bother to switch it off. Gradually I became aware of awkward maneuverings over there on the left side of the vehicle. Did he have an itch he couldn't scratch? And what was this finger frittering way up high there?

ME: What are you doing?
SERGE: Playing upright bass
ME: You mean air upright bass?

He liked that.

SERGE: Yes. I'm playing air upright bass. Listen! Listen! This part coming up here? When the band kicks back in? One of the best moments in jazz history.

I listen hard while Serge continues his air upright bass playing. Music notes crash against each other like bumper cars, the trumpet smacks the horn and the piano jumps in to break it all up. Upright bass sneaks in and tweaks the piano's ass, the piano retaliates loudly before running away, then the horn screams, slaps the trumpet back and there's a jazzy brouhaha. Still, the notes won't fit together for me and stop short of making sense.

THERE! Serge startles me with a dramatic finger point to accentuate "one of the best moments in jazz history" and then he kicks back in with his finger work on the old air upright bass.

SERGE: Did you hear it?
ME: I guess.
SERGE: God, I love Dave Brubek.

Too bad there aren't air upright bass competitions, I think. Serge would totally win. Because he'd be the only one competing.