Every city has about 1000 places that offer open microphones to those that write poems,prose or fiction.
Finley and I have a few select venues that we enjoy going to so we can try out our new material.
It is seldom that we call each other to see if one another is going to attend, instead...like all good Jedi Poets, we just use the force.
I'll never forget, when was it? Maybe a year....year and a 1/2 ago I went to one of these events, knowing with certainty that Finley would be there too, so I got there early, put our names on the sign up sheet, and placed my clipboard across the table from me to secure a seat for Mike.
Tick-Tock...............Tick Tock, time was flowing by, showtime was starting soon, and I eventually had to forfeit Finley's chair to a young woman who studied her work as if she were was about to take her an exam.
I'll bet there was 15 tables, all of which had 3-4....5 people at each one, but my table was a leper colony....
When you see open mike situations on TV, it's easy to get the impression that the rooms mood is festive, but truth be told, that almost never happens.
More often than not, most people go so they can step under a spot light and either amuse or heal themselves.
More often than not, the room becomes dour and void of hope!
But when their 6-8 minutes is finished, you can almost bank that they'll just sit back down and indulge the other presenters and leave it at that.
Now we are 3 poets into the show and the chick who is sitting across from me is called upon, so as she rifles her papers and breaths deeply, I give her the nod of approval, as if I'm some kinda of expert, or maybe even a friend.
As she made her way to the stage, I remember thinking....
"Where the hell is Finley."
Now the young women greets us, the audience with a non descript intro and then blasts ahead...balls to the wall, every verse is dealing with mental health.
Every line, informing us that hers is sketchy.
The poem made War & Peace seem "tight".
I don't think I timed her officially, but I'd be willing to bet that she did a 14 minute 6-8 minute set.
Oh yeah....and her poem concluded with "Orderlies raping me with their straight jacket."
So when she announces that she is finished.....
Nobody claps, why?
Because nobody cares.
This woman came to participate in something that she envisioned would be healing, but in fact the opposite happened.
Where do we come up with the notion that just because we openly confess, that healing will take place?
So next is a guy who reads to us from a novel he is working on....
A novel about Lizard Martians.
"O-M-G.....Finley where are you?"
Eventually I got a chance to do my set, and I have to chuckle as I remembered all these people, like 60 of them sitting out in the audience.
1/2 of them were texting,or reading whatever was handy, while the other 1/2 were kind enough to watch me, but their faces resembled deer staring into the headlights.
Actually they weren't watching me...they were looking through me.
Now I guess that I'd get this if it were my first time attending, but Finley and I had been here together 7 or 8 times.
Finley never did show, so the next day I called him and said something like....
"In addition to nobody applauding or showing a speck of interest in anybody's set but their own, they also didn't even say "Hello" or "I enjoyed your work, will you be coming back?"
I can hear Finley on the other line laughing.
"Dude" I lamented..."It wasn't even so funny that its funny. It was down right creepy, like the movies where the family in a Winnebago break down in some town in Ohio, only to find out that everybody who lives there is in some devil worship club!"
Finley continues chuckling before asking the following.....
"Don't you have to be a good judge of character in your business? What is the main difference between us and the people you read with last night?"
I had a dozen "wise guy" answers, but I could see that Mike was about to make a point.
"I would think that you would have picked up on the fact that we are unusual, we don't fit the writers template. We actually are outgoing, and have some joy in our life."
Finley's comment amused himself.
"I mean just take a look at writers, at poets, by nature these people are introverts. They are fragile. Groups like that never reach out to anyone."
When I asked if they were higher maintenance than artists, Finley roared......
"Yes, its not even close."