As the smooth beat of the bass rolls on, the dark black hair of the bassist waves back and forth. The stage has become his show. A golden light is shining down. This is just a little venue on roscoe. We are here because of a poster we stumbled upon on our walk to his place. Why not, we said.
Now the light has switched to the drums. Their soft tapping accenting a rhythm I've never heard before. I think I could listen to this all day, I tell him. He says, yea me too. We look at each other. I've only just met him. He looks like the bassist, but he's closer. I wish he was the bassist. A musician would probably be good in bed; Good fingers, I think. He asks if I want a drink. I say yea. He comes back with two ciders. Does he think I only like the sweet taste of a fruit infused sip? I say thanks. He thinks I’ll like it. I say I love it.
The music keeps on. The band is just kicking it off now. The trombone is soloing. I can't stop looking at the bassist. When a man has hair that goes to his shoulders it makes me question my sexuality. If I like long hair should I like girls? I told my friend that and she scoffed. I haven't told anyone else. The music is Afro blues. A deep tone color, I can feel it on my skin. It starts to seep into the club, and the colors of the stage lights change to a dark, midnight blue.
The man who bought me the cider is tapping his foot, too loud. It's distracting. I bop my head, only a little. I can feel tears surfacing. Great, I whisper. He says, huh? Shut up, I want to say. Oh nothing, this is great, right? Yeah, I'm loving this. His arm moves around my shoulders. I can feel its weight already. A tear drops. I always cry when I listen to instrumental music. I don't wipe it, he will feel me shifting, and ask what's wrong. The last thing I want is for him to see me as the girl I am.
I'm not that girl.
When I go out with men who take me to spontaneous jazz concerts, I wear red lipstick, red nails and red shoes. I need to seem like the girl they can take anywhere. Where do you wanna go, they say. Anywhere you want. I say it like they own me. Fuck that.
The music intensifies. A second tear drops. This time from the eye closer to his arm. I can't wipe it, that's not ladylike.
I notice an elderly couple in the corner. They are sitting apart, but I know they love each other. They’ve been here before - I think. I bet they’re regulars. They don't need to show their love like this man thinks he needs to do with me. Another tear. It drops on his hand. He takes his arm off, wipes his hand and puts it down.
He never notices my tears.