I attended an open mike last night. Even I can get out on a Wednesday night and still make the next day. You know the old saying, “Don’t soar with the eagles unless you can still get up with the chickens.” Never understood that one as it is the owls who hunt at night, so shouldn’t it be “Don’t hoot with the owls…” instead?
Any way… back in college and looking for something outside my “normal” type of life, I went to a spoken word open mike. I really didn’t know what to expect as the only spoken word event I had ever witnessed was on the 50’s-60’s sitcom “Dobie Gillis.” If you remember it chuckle along with me as I take a moment to flash back to the poetry readings attended by Dobie’s beatnik friends Maynard G. Krebs (sounds more upper-crust to me) and love interest Zelda. Remember the scene…the coffee shop. two top tables, cigarettes, ashtrays and at times modern dancers gyrating to sitar music and the beat of bongos. Oh for those days of distracted bliss.
Last night there were no white turtle necks and black berets, chin scruffs or non-discript pony tales. No non-conformists dressed alike declaring their non-conformity to society, sitting around drinking strong coffee and beatniks types saying “Right-on DADDY-O” a lot. There were no snapping fingers at the end of unintelligible poetry readings, read by poets with pained faces looking and sounding as if they were suffering through a three day long bout of constipation. Where was the much anticipated Greenwich Village experience that I had missed out on by choosing a year long vacation in South Vietnam?
The poetry was thoughtful and most of it even rhymed (my kind of poetry Sam, my kind of poetry). And those that didn’t rhyme were at least understandable and the poets didn’t wear that concerned look on their face. OK there was one story teller that wore a beatnik-type straight face when she read a short story in a some what monotone voice …something about everyone wishing grandpa would die of his cancer or something…guess grandpa was something of a curmudgeon so it made some sense. And surprisingly enough everyone clapped at the end of the readings…I felt kind of stupid snapping my fingers when the guest author finished his story about Mrs. Otis and Fruit loops.
All in all it was an enjoyable evening…and I may even have something prepared for next Wednesday…I’ll at least wear a black beret and when I finish hope everyone snaps their fingers and whispers “Right on DADDY-O.”