Wednesday, June 20, 2007

San Francisco highlight

There were many highlights of my trip to San Francisco, no small number of which took place the day of Shira & Dan's wedding. I suppose I was able to write about this one because it was simple, and not all-encompassing or life-adjusting like the wedding or the feelings surrounding my time spent with my Cambridge boys or the other UofM folks I had not seen in years.

This one is for Teddy Martens, for his appreciation of my writing and his encouragement of it, but also for his love of music:
Latenight at the bustling sushi joint on Mason Street, a rock band arrives having finished their night's gig. "Where should we set up?" they joke as they stash their instruments alongside their table. A guy with straggly black hair takes a seat at the mini-grand piano that somehow previously went unnoticed in the notably cramped basement sushi shop. He begins to play a heart-wrenching tune that aligns itself smoothly with our high, our beer, and our deep-fried unagi.
The place is packed and rowdy despite the face that it is well-past midnight on a Wednesday night. The crowd responds positively to the man's impromptu song, so he plays another one, also well-received. Then he takes a seat at the table alongside his bandmates and their girlfriends as their sushi arrives.
Ten minutes pass before the man retakes his position at the piano. This time his bandmates also stand up, remove two guitars from their cases, and begin to wail. A girl has joined the lead vocalist; one can tell by her confidence that she is not a regular in the band. She does well, lacking composure more than talent. I glance over to their table, now empty but for one man, the drummer, who has managed to set the beat using his chopsticks. The table provides one tone, the candle-holder another, and his glass of water a third. He clearly knows what he is doing, as the wooden sticks follow the melody perfectly or, should I say, the melody follows the sticks perfectly.
He looks up at me and smiles, and keeps looking at me, grin widening, even after I return his smile. We see that something magical has broken out here, and, in this town, it does not feel like a rare occurrence.
After the performance, the waitress offers them saki, shouting to them from across the room. The band has returned to their table and the other patrons to their conversations.


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