So, this is sortof the intermission of the story of last night, which I have yet to write, but…
I spin this whole narrative, little singer and his lack of confidence, wrote songs in his rooms but didn’t play them in bars. And, you know, the growth was stunted – I’m seeing concerts now of people who were at some point my peers, but now they’re an echelon higher and I am a fourth wall away definitely a spectator to their art.
But, see, the story that’s going on under there is smoke. Bars in Philly – musical bars in Philly, especially – were nothing but smoke. A haze. It was prohibitive, and when I first started venturing back out in 2006 when I had my giant hair and before the smoking ban I would just wince at every cigarette lit, because I knew my thick Italian hair was just sucking it up. And, sure enough, when I would come home I’d have no choice but to deflate the cloud of smoke with a scalding hot shower, lest the scent seep into my bed in my sleep.
(I grew up with a smoker – with a family of smokers, and I don’t know how I did it. How everything I owned smelled like smoke, and how the only air I breathed was smokey. Now I can barely hack a car ride of it, even with the windows down.)
So, this is the untold story: I am not a big star because of smokey rooms. Other reasons too, I’m sure. But, the smokey rooms were primary, as I was reminded tonight – taking in some of the best talent of Philly and I had to leave midset. Me, leaving a concert, that asshole slipping away between songs. It’s completely unheard of.
The thing is, I couldn’t breath. A table at the front of weird little Connie’s Ric Rac (not a bar, so no smoking ban) with two new friends enjoying the music and suddenly my eyes couldn’t focus and I was like why is it that I’m not breathing? I thought, you know, maybe someone nearby had just lit a bad brand for me, and I needed some fresh air. So, I poked my head out the door, but when I slunk back in it was worse; pressing against me.
I’m not much of a claustrophobe, but this was too much. I sat back down at the table, but it was through my clothes now, on my skin, seeping in. Breathing was thick and heavy, and now my stomach was churning as well. It was that sort of toe-curling discomfort, where you are squeegeeing up your toes in your socks, clenching tight and willing your way past it.
I ran home, clothes infected, happy to breath crisp freezing point air if only because of the difference in pressure.
And that is the story of how I didn’t get to hang around long enough to buy a handmade CD from Spinning Leaves, who I am in love with (and also probably the story of how I am going to miss the Sleepwell’s CD release tomorrow despite having it on my calendar for TWO MONTHS, because just the thought of going back into that place is raising hives on my forearms).