Friday, July 17, 2015

Back To Work

45 Dollar Thursday

My layoff from busking has ended at 4 days off.

I went into the Quarter on this Thursday night, which cooled down considerably from the daytime highs in the upper 90's which had me thinking that there might be very few tourists on the streets.I got to the Lilly Pad at about 10 PM, after having laid down and almost gone to sleep at about 8:30 in my room. I was still ailing from eczema that is receding, but slowly.

The rash kind of looks like a sunburn, but I know better. It's alright if I play at night, under my spotlight.
Somehow, I sat up and did a few sit-ups and then decided to go to work.
I was feeling markedly better, after 3 days of alcohol free juice fasting; and with the addition of some exercises to my daily routine.

I had gone to the Ideal Market at about noon, just as I had the previous day, and broke a sweat along the way, but was not itching quite as much as I had been on Wednesday, when making the same trek.

I also eliminated the Monster Energy drink that I had consumed on Wednesday, substituting a coconut juice drink, sweetened only with fructose; no "sucralose," and no artificial colors.

I had sent a text to Lilly, explaining my absence for 4 days from her stoop, as being due to a skin rash. She sent back, thanking me for letting her know what had happened to me.

I started out with 2 dollars in my tip jar, after having resisted the temptation to spend it on a hard cider before starting, to loosen me up.

I got a 20 dollar bill after my first song; something that I would have certainly missed out on, had I taken 10 minutes to go to the Quartermaster for the hard cider.

I was struggling with my playing, my fingers tiring after the first song; I guess I needed to stretch them and warm up after 4 days off.

I continued to play for almost an hour without getting any more tips from the light crowd; blaming it on a slight lack of enthusiasm because of being sober, and the fact that my harmonica is basically blown out, with one note plugged, and a few more out of tune.

I tried to work around the good notes and play simple melodies, but it was kind of embarrassing to be so simple. When I have a brand new harp, I think people tip me for the effort that I put into playing it, and that comes from knowing that all the notes are in tune and being able to go full steam ahead on the thing and at least not worry about intonation.
I switched to my simplest material and tried to rely upon my vocals, because my guitar playing behind the blown out harp was not very sharp, either.

I thought about the 20 dollars as being harmonica money, resolving to get one "first thing in the morning."

I also kept deciding to take a quick break and run to the store for a hard cider, but then changing my mind (why break 3 days of sobriety) and continuing to play.

It was after about the 3rd such instance of waffling that a guy came from the direction of Laffits Blacksmith  Shop Tavern and placed what I thought was 2 or 3 dollars in the tiposaurus jar.

"Thank you, I'm struggling a bit tonight," I said, before breaking into a song as he walked away.

After I finished the song, a closer look revealed that he had put 4 single bills, wrapped around a 20 in there. It was another 24 bucks that I would have missed out on, had I run to the store for alcohol.

Another dollar tip brought the total to 45 bucks, after an hour and a half of playing.
I decided to pack up and finally run to the store for that hard cider, at about 11:40, but, after packing up, changed my mind yet again, as I sat and pondered the decision for a couple minutes.

During that time, a large car slowed down as it passed me and the driver, whom I half recognized, said: "Hey, I've got (something I couldn't discern)."


"Wait a minute, I'll be coming by."

I wondered if he was a weed dealer, and if he would have the good green when he came by; and if it would be 20 dollars a gram. And I wondered how the weed dealers seem to know, through some kind of telepathy, when I have just gotten a 20 dollar tip or more, and then to materialize out of nowhere.

Since I was already packed up, I didn't wait for him to come around, but rather, headed for home.

I was too much looking forward to taking home all of the money that I had made, like I had done throughout my previous stints of sobriety; when it would accumulate on my coffee table and I could soon start thinking about buying things like the speakers for my home stereo that I now wonder how I ever lived without, and which I bought after the last 18 day stretch without alcohol or weed.

The sparse crowd that I saw as I walked Bourbon Street was a sign that I had made a wise decision in knocking off at that time -not that I couldn't have made another 45 dollars, off of such a thin crowd, because I already had, but the odd were against it, especially with a blown out harmonica.

I passed by Jay, the really loud singer on Royal Street, who complained about "Europeans who don't tip."

I once again bit my tongue and didn't brag about the 30 dollars per hour that I had made at the Lilly Pad. That would just beckon the arrival of a day when I show up there to find him singing really loud. And if his jar was full of 20 dollar bills then, it would take all of Lilly's horses and all of her men, to make it so I could play there again.

Jay puts in close to 8 hours a night on Royal Street to make the 100 to 300 dollars that he is glad to pull out of his pocket and brag about.

Now I am home with about 40 dollars (after having caved in and bought a pack of cigarettes at the Unique Grocery) baking a whole tilapia and planning to buy a new harmonica and maybe a new Snark tuner, in the morning.

The skeezers on Royal Street were visibly perturbed as I walked past them.
One of them, who is the current roommate of Jay the really loud singer, has been skeezing for years at the same spot.

He sits amidst accoutrements so plentiful that he actually employs a cart to tote the stuff.
There is the little pad that he sits on, usually reading a book -just putting his hours in; letting the dog (with its empty dog-dish) to his right, and the sign ("homeless, broke, anything helps, God bless you") to his left, do all the "work."

I just walk past him, at a loss for anything to say. I'm afraid that any words might betray my true feelings of disdain for a person who makes a career out of skeezing.

He is even more lazy than the next girl whom I passed, who at least made the effort to look up at me with "sad puppy" eyes. I didn't acknowledge her, either. She just would have asked me for something...

Then there is the older woman at the corner of Iberville Street with the sign that reads: "Be kind, this could be you."

Maybe it could be me; but not every night for a year and a half and counting, could it be me.

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