March 24th, 2005

ninja pho

Tuesday Night at Neumo's

The air is dense with cigarette smoke. It was bad enough when it makes nonsmokers choke, but as for me, it just makes me want my own cigarette. Standing against the wall of the second floor of the bar listening to the band play, I switch my focus between the musicians and the audience. The crowd is standing in a V formation, with the band at the point and a stairway down the middle, spliting the crowd in two halves. My eyes dart around the room looking for interesting people and she catches my eye, or maybe I catch hers.

We smile at each other and I let her break eye contact first. The next fourty-five minutes are filled with this game, until the music stops. I see she is with a guy, but I quickly jump to the conclusion that they are just friends. He is obviously more of a safety net for her and less of an actual boyfriend. I reconignize this kind of guy fairly easily because I am often playing that role myself. Even thought I recognize this, pushing forward on flirting with her is leaving me uneasy. It's much too crowded to try to walk over to her and start a conversation anyways, so I don't stress about it too much.

The band finishes it's last song and I walk over to the singer. Talented musicians deserve encouragement and I want to make sure that people understand my appreciation of their art. He's nervous and shy and doesn't take my compliment very gracefully. I ask him how long they been playing together and he shyly responds that they just started. They don't have any releases or websites but he offers his mailing list so that I can catch future concert dates. After thanking him for playing, the lobby where the bands are playing is fairly clear and everyone is downstairs at the bar. I make my way down there as well, buy myself a drink and right about then, that damned cigarette craving starts getting to me again. I glance around and notice a guy, sitting alone back underneath an encave, who just started smoking. I walk over to him, bum a smoke and we proceed to talk about upcoming shows and music in general. His friend walks over with beers for the two of them and immediately joins our conversation.

After the conversation starts to shift to new topics, a momentary lull breaks it's flow and I excuse myself to the facilities. When I come back, the people I was talking to have moved on and are no longer sitting there. I notice that the girl I was playing eye-tag with is sitting in the corner near where I was sitting before, and feeling good from the previous fun conversation with a stranger, I am ready to approach her. I go take a seat on the stool next to where she is, smile at her and extend my hand, introducing myself.

She's petite, something I always find myself swooning for, and her hair is as black as hairdye can make it. When she smiles, her face shifts and there is this glimmer of mischief in her eyes. Leaning slightly forward and brushing her hair behind her ears, she asks me if I go to shows often. She then shifts in her seat and readjusting herself as I answer her question, causing her hair to fall back in front of her face. She is very fidgety and can't seem to sit still for more than a second or two. It reminds me of someone who has drank too many cups of coffee. It's cute and it makes me want to try and hold her still for a second, just to see what happens. Her friend is sitting next to her and I shake his hand and introduce myself. He nods and stands up, mentioning that he is going to get another drink.

We talk for a while before her friend comes back, him noticing that everyone around us has gone back upstairs. The music has gotten much louder and we realize that the next act started without us. Unfortunately, due to our getting lost in the conversation, when the three of us walk back upstairs there is no room to stand. There is a sea of people and I can't even see the band play. We are forced to stand on the stairs leading up to the second floor, which leaves quite a bit to be desired in comfort. After trying to enjoy the concert from this weak location, we all opt to go back downstairs and enjoy the concert from one of the couches next to the bar.