Sounding board

Stellar San Francisco afternoon; we may as well be in the midst of a fucking RomCom meet-cute. Across a long, wobbly table in the Castro I’m staring at Meg, willing her to be my muse. I’ve drugged her with copious amounts of caffeine. Inspiration will strike at any moment. We’re surrounded by the pretentious white noise of the unconventionally employed. I bore into Meg’s forehead waiting for genius. I’m pretty certain at this point she’s frozen with discomfort.

Thanks for the first paragraph, Meg. It was well worth it.

The employees at my own local coffee shop know my face. My half-cocked bun precariously teetering on my head, mascara freckled; I attempt to emerge into the world elegantly after a night of refined, delicate slumber. (Achieved through fully territorializing the duvet as a human burrito, while claiming all available bed corners through strewn limbs; this limits, equally, the likelihood of sleepwalking and spatially demanding bedfellows.) Sometimes the baristas know my drink order. It’s my version of Cheers: where everyone kinda remembers you. Victorious in my sense of community involvement, I set off for a Saturday afternoon jam session.

I’m fresh from both a triumphant night of karaoke in which I totally smoked Salt-N-Pepa’s Shoop, and my first singing lesson in four years. The latter was less triumphant. It’s a man’s world, she tells me. You’re singing voice is much higher than your speaking voice. You’re overcompensating in conversation. Here I was thinking I was subverting gender norms by not being a girly girl. So I research power imbalance based on vocal cues. Ugh. Fine. Maybe my speaking voice has an undercurrent of masculine hegemony, but I totally sound like Bonnie Raitt in the car, in my head. Definitely with some whiskey. I purr the blues.

These are my thought-companions as Alexis lays out a plan. We should record a track today. Dubious, I buy into his easy authority. Maybe it’s his man voice.

Mostly, I’m curious: this is not our normal jam. For one thing, I have no wine. I am the Olivia Pope of jam sessions (sans white hat and political intrigue, otherwise totally the same). For another, we now have props. I have a sound engineer. I’m going to sound like Beyoncé. This is going to be amazing.

He exerts great patience.

Maybe we could do that better? I wince at the sound of my voice taunting me over the glorified answering machine. I’m tempted just to remix a version of “we’re not available at this time, please call back”. Boots and pants and boots and pants.

Maybe give it one more go? You try singing “riding high on love’s true bluish light” without your tongue unfolding like a horny cartoon wolf.

But at the end of the day, with a sense of achievement packaged as a partially completed first track, I’m a happy Kat curled on the couch strumming the guitar. On the wrong side of my body. I don’t know how to play the guitar. Only how to make it look cool. If I had Sharon’s wide brimmed straw hat, I would have an album cover sorted.

Mic check, what?

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