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— 12 February 2006 —

Speaking My Piece

I worked at the TC Buzz on Friday night.

Every Friday and Saturday they have some sort of event: music, or in this case, open mic night. Most of the open mic people did poetry/spoken word, some sang, some rapped.

There were a couple of interesting things that happened. Somewhat more interesting in light of recent posts by Scrivs and Bryan.

The place was packed. All the extra chairs were in use. But given that most of the performing was spoken, it was often quiet. We worked hard behind the counter to keep the drink-making noise down, and limit the loud blenders to between performances.

C’mere So I Can Slap You

A fella in his late 50s came in. I’ve seen him before and he always gets the same thing: Large Dry Cap, and a small black coffee. I gave him the drinks and watched as he looked back toward the front of the store.

“Is there a back way out of here,” he asked.

I said, Yeah, we have a back door down that hall.

“Good. And how do I get back out to the parking lot,” he asked looking out the front door where 99.9% of the customers park.

I looked at him, one eyebrow raised, my head cocked to one side. Those of you who know me will know this look. It the “am I about to be disappointed in you” look. I said, It’s a long walk around the building to get to the front parking lot.

He continued to look toward the front door and said, “I guess that’s what I will have to do.” And then he left out the back door.

For a second, I thought the way to the front door was blocked by people since it was so packed, but that wasn’t the case at all. Even though there were about 60 people in the place, there was plenty of room to walk from the counter to the front door. The cafe is in a long, L-shaped mini-mall and we are basically in the corner of it. He had to pass the movie theatre, a restaurant, and Best Buy, then a bunch of small businesses then do it all again to come back to where he parked in front of the cafe.

Here’s the reason I think he did this: Out of about 60 people in the place, 6 were white, the rest were black. When he left there were 5 white people. So fella, yes, I am disappointed in you. Ass.

One Of These Things Is Not Like The Other

It had slowed down quite a lot since most of the people in the place had drinks already. And the open mic night was winding down. The guy who was running the event (I didn’t catch his name) called out asking if anyone would like to come up. There was a bit of silence and I decided to raise my hand.

I was behind the bar at the time, and I think he thought I was just waving at him. Regardless, some one went up to the mic. When that person finished (she sang really well), he asked again if anyone wanted to come up before the night ended. Someone said, “What about that guy,” meaning me.

Most everyone’s head turned around to where I had gone to sit at the back of the room. I was looking through all my old poetry, trying to find something interesting. I’d found three poems that I thought would be fun to read. I looked back at all the faces staring at me and said, “Okay.”

I wound my way through the crowd to the front area. I tried speaking through the mic, but the people in the back couldn’t hear me. So I just stepped to the side and projected. Given the preceding performances, I felt a little out of place. For example, two spoken word performances began, “I am a strong black man/woman…” Just in case you didn’t know, and I also know you don’t care, I am not a strong black man or woman. So I opened with this:

“Now, I just want to prepare you because my poetry will probably be a bit different than anything you’ve heard tonight.” I waived my right hand from my head, down my body and gave the “you know what I am saying” look. Got a big laugh.

From then on out I don’t actually recall much. I rarely do when I am up in front of a large group of people. I read fine, people clapped. It was fun. Then I went back to making drinks.

Not the way I usually spend my Friday nights, but it was a nice change of pace. And if you are interested in hanging out at a fun place with great coffee, and are not afraid of nice, warm, friendly humans who happen to have skin that varies in pigment, then I welcome you to TC Buzz.

If you are afraid, then c’mere so I can slap you, then get the hell out.

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