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Saturday, July 16, 2005

Pass The Salsa

Went to a salsa concert last night on Sarasota Bay. Idyllic setting on the back lawn of VanWezel Performing Arts Center. WAYzel not WEEzel. It's an enormous purple, Frank Lloyd Wright designed building that I've grown to love. Concerts inside are killer. The sound is perfect and so is the view. The view outside is killer too. Sunset over Long Boat Key. Lots of diverse people bouncing about to the salsa beat. And some bouncing all wrong but they were having fun.

My mission was to watch couples and see how they communicate without words. And how they communicate their relationship to me, the dark-bespeckled voyeur. I love my new shades. Cathy hates it when she can't see my eyes. I don't purposely do that. I just find them more comfortable than my regular specs. Besides they give me a lot more viewing time when I don't want people to notice. Forgot my notebook but that would have blown my cover worse than Karl Rove.

Couple number one was right in front of me. Sixty-ish. Slightly overweight. Bored. Both of them had lost their chins. Not misplaced them. It's just that their chins merged with their necks so that there was no discernible difference. Mrs. was talking loudly on a cell phone. So loudly that I could tell without trying that she was just talking to talk, not to relay any important message. Now I was bored. Husband read with great detail the classified ads of the newspaper. Often out loud to his wife who was busy saying lethally boring things into her cell phone. A man with a very unfortunate dye job asked her with a smile to please not talk so loud. It was apparently interfering with his listening to the interminable sound check the band was pretending to do. Chinless Cell Phone Lady ignored him. Chinless Newspaper Reader loudly read an ad about a low milage Oldsmobile.

I thought, oh, how interesting, we're about to see a fight. But Bad Dye job and his wife Mrs. Smiling Too Much, got all passive aggressive and kept looking at their tormentors and shaking their heads sadly. As if to say, "What Hath God Wrought?" They noisily and animatedly folded up their chairs and found another piece of lawn. Mr. and Mrs. Chinless didn't seem to notice.

The next couple sat next to me with two very large and exceedingly well groomed poodles. A black and a white. Bill and Shelby. Shelby, the black one and I became instant pals. Their owners did have a slight resemblance to their pets but not enough to take a photo and submit it to ONE-OF-THOSE-PET-PEOPLE-SITES. This couple seemed to communicate to those around them by talking to their dogs who wanted very badly to sniff crotches and lick hands. They were clearly two people who had no other life. Lucky for the dogs, I guess. They were all cute but just different from me. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

The sound check took ninety minutes. Everyone resisted making stereotypical Cuban jokes about looking around for spare parts. Even when all 11 members of the band and their families and roadies seemed to be just standing around looking as if Jorge was going to arrive any minute with the stuff he salvaged from the Rhumba band down the beach. Finally when the parts arrived or when their cigar break was over, they started but had to take another twenty minutes to turn everybody's mics on and level check each of them. We were awfully glad that this band was actually good when they finally revved it up. The band leader had a HUGE Carlos Santana fixation but he pulled it off well.

We had moved our chairs by this time to a place closer to the water and actually behind the stage. We could hear fine. Even the outside of the building had unbelievable acoustics. So I settled in for some people watching. I started to notice how much alike long standing couples looked. Attitude, expression and demeanor all perfectly matched in the best examples.

This is one of those experiences I need to think about for a long time before it becomes anything in the way of a lyric. But I will attest to the fact that crowds such as this are rich mines waiting to be exploited. When I'm not already so busy and drained. Perhaps The Sabbath will be inspirational and I'll think of more to tell you. Perhaps not, heathen that I am.

posted by Bud @ 5:10 AM

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