“Hey there Mr. Funny Man, Mr. I-Can-Do-It-All, Mr. Trying To Steal Everyone’s Girlfriend. Nice acoustic set, except for the fact that your music is sad and whiny and you’re a fool and you’re not gonna steal my girlfriend. I came here to make sure of that.”
“I’m sorry, I’m just here to play music…or at least that’s what I think I’m here for,” answered back the acoustic performer, amused by himself with a cool, confident smile, looking around at all the faces gazing towards him.
A large amount of those in attendance were young, college-aged girls; undergrads. Many were seated around him on the floor, staring up at him dreamily, as if he were a folk hero. Just about all of them giggled whenever he spoke.
“I know what you’re doing. And that “funny” anecdote you told earlier wasn’t even funny at all. There was nothing ironic about what you said. You drove into town and saw a sign and you knew you were here. Whatever.”
“I’m sorry that upset you, I’ll cons–”
“Yeah!” shouted another man, standing up in the back opposite of the room. “I’m gonna have to agree with him.”
“You got your faded jeans and your loafers and you think you’re so deep. It’s nauseating.”
“Boooo!” most of the female audience members shouted in the direction of both hecklers.
“Just get out.”
“Yeah, get out!”
“Well I apologize for–”
“You asked the barrista to “fetch” you a glass of water and so far you’ve only taken one sip,” shouted another heckler, raising their voice a bit louder with every word to overpower the returning boos.
Boos were shouted in all directions. There was no music. There was no order. There was no way he could continue performing until things had settled down.
“Hey hey hey,” the performer said into the microphone. “If you don’t like me or my music, then why not just leave? No one’s keeping you here.”
There was more noise from the crowd. Some people clapped in agreement with the performer, others answered back with curses.
“Awwww piss off!”
“Yeah. Screw you, man. You get out of here! Don’t tell me to leave!”
The room was hostile and in a complete stir. There was no manager or anyone who could mitigate the commotion. One man in the back of the room took off his shirt. He immediately put it back on.
A gentleman, older than most members of the crowd, who was sitting quietly, raised his hand to say something. He looked as though he could be a professor at a nearby university.
“Yes. Hey everyone, everyone let’s hear what this man has to say. Ok? And then can I get back to the music, please?”
The older gentleman spoke,”I have perfect pitch and the break you took earlier to retune your guitar was completely unnecessary.”
“Yeah!” a bunch of men in the crowd cheered.
“You dropped your low E just so you could raise it back up again, and tell another one of your ridiculous, unironic stories in the process,” he said, looking back to the first heckler who had pointed out the lack of irony in the performer’s stories; giving his endorsement to the younger man’s statement.
“I came in for a relaxing afternoon cup of tea, and what I’m witnessing here is sickening.”
There were more boos from the men and even more boos in response from the defending women.
Admist all the chaos and disruption, one young woman spoke up.
“You told me to come here and see your show. You said that you would really really like for me to hear you play when we met earlier out on the street. You said I should stick around and hang out afterwards. How many other girls did you tell that to?” she said, sounding upset.
“He said that same thing me!”
“I saw this jerk walking around all over town with his guitar earlier today. What did no one have a puppy for you to borrow as well?” someone else shouted.
“I came to play music. This is a paid gig. There is no greater conspiracy happening,” the performer responded indignantly.
There were more boos. Just about all boos. Even most the women now. If anyone was still left on his side, they weren’t letting it be known.
“Is everyone in this town crazy? Why is everyone such a fucking asshole?”
“See, he’s not that deep! He’s not the caring sensitive type. He’s a phoney!”
“Awww fuck you. Fuck all of you,” he said, placing his guitar back in it’s case. Someone pelted him in the ribs with a scone; there was no telling who threw it at this point.
He grabbed the mic stand and amp and with his hands full, bolted towards the exit, towards the parking lot with his cables dragging the whole way there. He was in a hurry to get out.
He received constant harassment the entire trip over.
Standing at his station wagon, he checked himself to make sure he had everything.
“The tuner!” he said out loud to himself.
He thought to go back in and grab it, but when he turned to look back, there were dozens of faces looking out at him angrily from the window; many giving him the finger.
“Forget it,” he said, opening the door and climbing into the driver’s seat.
As he rolled out the parking lot, the crowd poured out to cheer his departure.
He looked in the rear view window, and returned the finger for everyone.
“Back at you,” he said to himself.
It was another town to cross off his list.
He was leaving definitely.