Friday, May 13, 2016

Where's My 5 Bucks


  • 24 Bucks Thursday
  • Lilly Pad Skeezers


Thursday night, the "Jesus shadow" clock read about 10:40 PM as I went past it on the way to the Lilly Pad.
There were a couple people sitting on the stoop, one of which was an older black guy whom, I was sure, was either skeezing the middle aged white guy sitting next to him, who was dressed like a tourist, or was hooking him up with some pot.
As I arrived, the white guy said: "There's a guy with a guitar!" as if he had been waiting for one to show up.
The black guy began to tell him that I played well and that he should listen to me.
I slowly set up and tuned up and played for a while, wondering how I was either going to get the two of them to leave me in peace, or to at least tip me something. Or maybe to get the skeezer to hurry up and skeeze the guy and go off with a couple bucks, or more to my joy, off with nothing but the brutal lesson that if you waste a half hour of your time skeezing and get nothing then, that's on you.
It turned out that the guy played guitar. He wanted to play my guitar.

I told him that I usually asked people to throw "a couple bucks" in my jar if they played my guitar.
He said something that started with "I'll..." which had the effect of making the skeezer burst into a giggle. He seemed to gravitate more to the spot next to the guy, as he sat back down next to the guy after having stood up; giving me hope that he might walk away.
I let the guy play the guitar.
He wanted me to play along on the harmonica, and played songs that he knew in the key of C, although they weren't in the modes that I favor on the C harp.
Soon, along came another older, skinny black guy in a striped shirt, who had 2 spoons in his hands, and who decided to impose himself between myself and the guy playing guitar and "play" the spoons -not it the way that spoons are usually played, but by using them like drumsticks to drum on a metal electrical box (which is right outside a bedroom in Lilly's house, and who knows how well the metal conducts the sound into the dwelling?).
It was as if the second skeezer with the spoons saw the first one and knew that he was skeezing the tourist, and couldn't bear to let it pass without sticking his own nose in the trough. Almost every time a tourist gives to a skeezer, it attracts more of them, who bring almost a "where's MY 5 bucks?" attitude with them.
"Hey, I don't work with a spoon player," I said to the "spoon player."
He was soon on his way, but not without profusely begging the tourist for money, using some bald faced lie, like saying he hadn't eaten all day. And, I mean begging hard, almost kneeling down and "please" -ing him to the point where he was displeasing him so much that the skeezers hustle becomes implicitly: for a sum of money; I will go away...
"I'm trying to work here," I said at one point.
The other skeezer took the hint and began to leave, but not before profusely begging the tourist, saying that he too hadn't eaten all day, or something.
I don't know what the guy handed him, but he was brimming with joy and all "God bless you"s and "Thank you Jesus"s. He soon walked off; after all, he had gotten what he had spent a half hour trying to skeeze.
"Here, this is for you," said the tourist, turning towards me and handing me a bill.
"Thank you," I said and put it in my back pocket without looking at the denomination.
Then, the tourist wanted to play another song, which he did, while I tagged along on the harmonica. The song seemed to have 100 verses.
I was able to get the guitar back, by saying, something like: "That was a pretty cool song," while extending a hand towards the instrument.
I began to play some more, but was soon interrupted by him saying, "Oh, I know what song we can play," and extending his hand towards the guitar.
We had jammed for a half an hour, and only a dollar and 50 cents had gone into my jar, and now he wanted to play another song.
I should have pulled the bill out of my pocket and looked at it (it wound up being a 20) but, instead, I used the excuse that I had to run to the restroom, packed up and ran to the store up the street. I didn't buy anything there, except time. Returning 10 minutes later, I set up again and played for another half hour, but only made about 3 more dollars.
I supposed, in hindsight, I should have just jammed with the guy all night (2 hours at most) and then took my chances with him saying something like: "Here's another 20, I know I put you out of business all night..."
I probably would have humored him longer by playing harmonica along with his guitar playing and singing, had I seen that he had given me a 20; but, only 4 dollars and 50 cents went into the tip jar
while we were jamming, so I would have been putting all my eggs in one basket.
He was drunk enough that he was pausing in his speaking to search for words. I'm sure the skeezers were circling him like vultures for that very reason; like boxers seeing their opponent starting to sway.
He told me that he just missed playing the guitar, being away from his Alvarez. I think I might have blown a 50 dollar tip by running off to "the restroom," now that I think of it more...

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