West Something, Connecticut

August 4, 2010
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West Something, Connecticut
There’s this place in Brooklyn. 538 Johnson, apartment 208, take the L to Jefferson. It’s this huge building, unmarked. You walk up all these stairs, graffiti gnawing at the dirty walls and you’ll know when you get to the right floor.
The first time I went to a show there, I choked on the weed and cigarette smoke that danced in the impossibly long hallway outside of the one-room venue, filled with fifty grimy kids sitting, standing, smoking. Waiting. I marveled at the whimsy of the system of the girl manning the door: charge five bucks, grab change from the bowl at your feet, mark the left hand of the customer in green sharpie in the order they arrive. I was number 62. He was 41.
I stood around, texted my best friend about whatever. When the opening bands no one but their friends had ever heard of played, I ventured into the living room of someone’s house and stood on an upturned wooden box. I tried not to stare at the guy next to me. He clapped during all the right parts, out of courtesy to the struggling young guys mauling their instruments ten yards from where we stood. He turned to me. “So, uh, fellow benchsitter, how’s it going?” I fell in love.
He was twenty-two, six years older than me. Was he still in school? I didn’t ask.
He was from West Something, Connecticut. Westbrook or West Haven or something. It was pretty loud. I had never loved the death of eye contact, as you put your tilted you ear against someone’s mouth because it was the only way to hear, before.
His younger brother was there. That explained the darker haired kid he’d sort of been talking before.
He was drinking water out of one of those metal containers that make it so you don’t have to rape the environment by constantly using up plastic Poland Spring water bottles, the way I did every day. Could I have some? Sure. I liked that he was probably the only guy in the place not drinking alcohol. I wanted to tell him that. I didn’t.
He briefly consulted a worn book from his oversized canvas bag in one of the brief moments when the lights were on. I wondered what he was reading. I didn’t ask.
How did I get here? I took the bus and then the subway. He had travelled by bike and train. Would he teach me how to ride a bike? I didn’t ask.
He hurt his ankle at a show last week, so that’s why he was on this box with me. I explained that I was just short. I didn’t ask what show it had been or if he wanted me to softly wrap his ankle in an ace bandage.
He just looked up and kind of smiled when someone from the landing above us spilled their drink into his dark blonde hair. He shook his head with disappointment, but also to force out the liquid, like a puppy would. I wondered how he got his hair to look like that, kind of spiked, but without the effort. It looked sort of greasy, but good. He wore a bandana, but not in a d*****bag kind of way.
When one of the opening bands played some cover I didn’t recognize, he looked so natural and perfectly placed, singing along and pumping his fist. I hoped I looked that appropriate when I sang along with stuff. I knew I didn’t. Hey, what was that last song that band played? I didn’t ask.
Which band are you here for? Lemuria. I’m not too stoked on any of these other bands, but I’ve never heard any of them. I didn’t tell him that I was here for band that would play before Lemuria finally did, that I think they’re pretty great.
I didn’t recognize the brand of his plain black sneakers. What was with the hand sewn patches on his cargo pants? What did they mean? I didn’t ask. His 1-2-3-4-Go! Records shirt was faded, so I knew that all of this was nothing new to him.
His name? I didn’t ask.

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