Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Poor Billy Myers

Since this post, I've written two more exercises, neither of them especially good. After some thought and a reread, I thought I would post the first exercise I wrote, just for fun.

I'll note again that I don't do humor so well, and I'm doing it deliberately here, which means it's probably all the less good. Also, before I hear from anyone telling me I don't write especially well, this is an exercise, not a finished piece. I didn't edit it really at all in the typing.


The applause seemed pretty minimal, when they called my name, but then what did I know? Maybe they applauded like that for Don McLean, no whistles or anything, just putting their hands together like you'd clap for a guest speaker at the meetings. Holding back some cherry love for after.

I had Susie by the neck as I walked up to the stage. I slung her over my shoulder going up to the mike. My mom got me this shiny silver strap for her, and I thought it looked silly on an acoustic, but I put it on her anyway because I love my mom.

I dug down in my vocal register. "Hello, I'm John Cash." No one laughed. Or at least I didn't hear them. Maybe the acoustics were funny. I waved to the varicolored silhouettes, squinting under the stage lights. "Yeah, hey. Billy Myers. Hope you like what I'm puttin' down tonight."

I started with "Brandy," one of my favorites. I really rock at making Susie do the "doo-doo-doo"s at the end of the chorus, the part after "my life, my love and my lady is the sea," where I'd normally need backup singers. But I just strum away on Susie and it sounds almost as good. When I was done they applauded again, maybe a little less than when I came up on stage. Probably because I was a teensy bit flat during the bridge. The microphone is supposed to hide that kind of thing.

"Thank you," I said. "Now, you all can feel free to sing along with this next one. The lyrics even say so." I laughed a little, but I still couldn't hear anyone laughing with me. It was "Sergeant Pepper" next. I majorly challenged myself learning that one for one acoustic guitar, but the arrangement turned out really well.

About halfway through I heard a funny low noise from the back of the auditorium. Like a moo? Was someone mooing? I missed a couple of words while I tried to see back there, but my fingers just kept doing what they do best, chord after chord on sweet Susie.

I finished off with a big "Bill-eee Sheeeeears!" and strummed the last chord way fast on Susie like a flamenco player. "Woo!" The applause was funny, kind of scattered, and more mooing seemed to emanate from the back. Was there actually an animal back there? Had a cow wandered into the auditorium?

"Thanks, everybody!" I wiped my forehead. "All right. Just one more. This is a Myers original, and all you lovers out there can just cuddle up."

Another funny sound from the audience, like a murmur. Maybe the sound was bad, the amps too quiet or something, and they were unhappy about not hearing me well enough.

The song was called "My Love Is Kind," and it's the best song I've ever written. These folks here in the Butler Auditorium tonight were so lucky to be hearing it played in public for the first time. It may only be a middle school auditorium but it was a legitimate open-mike coffeehouse, Walt told me so. (Walt's my sponsor.) He said anybody might be there, even record-company people. They don't come out to Omaha that often, I'll bet, but you never know.

I got to the high note in the bridge - "soooooo much" - when the mooing started again, this time louder. I still didn't know what it was, but it seemed to be everywhere from the audience, really loud. Maybe somebody performing had a cow act and they'd gotten loose. I couldn't see, with the lights.

A tear came to my eye as I sang the last repeat of the chorus. I'd practiced that tear at home in front of my mirror, but there on stage it was totally authentic. I was really feeling the kindness of my love in the song. The mooing was so loud that I almost couldn't hear the last few spaced-out notes of the final, shimmering chord.

"Thank you, good night!" I called into the mike and hustled off the stage. That's a trick I noticed in watching a lot of live shows on YouTube: you always gotta get off stage quick and let the cheers nurse you back on for the encore.

I nearly hit Jack in the face with Susie as I came offstage. Jack was the coffeehouse organizer. "Hey!" I said. I was so pumped from performing for an adoring crowd. "That was awesome, wasn't it?" I thought I heard some cows or something but there was a really great energy from the audience."

Jack gave me a pained little smile. Jealousy. "Sure, Billy."

"I mean, just listen to that!" From the auditorium, such a ruckus of mooing. "I guess that's how they show they like it in coffeehouses? By mooing? It's weird, but it's probly like snapping. When they snap for poetry."

"Uh, yeah," said Jack.

"They're really mooing like crazy! Maybe I should go out for my encore now."

"No!" Jack said sharply, and caught my arm. "Say, um...Why don't I have my sister buy you a beer? Down the street at McGoohan's? She's a nice gal, only a couple years older than you."

"I don't drink beer anymore," I said. "Besides, it's my responsibility as an artist. Encores are like a given these days. They could turn into a mob if I don't play some more!"

"She'll buy you a Coke, then," said Jack. "They might turn into a mob if you do play some more. Sheila!"

A pretty lady in a green sleeveless blouse dashed out from the hallway leading to the rehearsal room. "Jesus, what?"

"This is Billy Myers. Take him somewhere, okay?" Jack went out on stage to the still-noisy crowd.

I hardly noticed. Sheila was a vision in polyester. "Hell-oo."

She offered an uncertain smile and tucked her hair behind her ear. "Hi, there."


Denise said...

Finally had time to read this. Ha ha, this story makes me feel like what it must be like inside the heads of all those people that to me seem utterly clueless. He's so earnest and utterly deluded. So convinced that his view of the world is universal. I might be putting my own shit in here now...

Anyway, I liked it.

Katharine Coldiron said...

I'm so glad!