I DJ periodically around town. That is to say, I don't spin, since spinning would require lugging around thoughtless pounds of vinyl, my vinyl, and, truth be told, I'm getting older and don't get paid enough for this sort of manual labor. So I bust out my Powerbook, laden with thousands of songs I've specified and pulled aside for the evening, hook it up via RCA cords, and hold my breath in eager anticipation of the onslaught of purists who will, more than likely, approach my booth, ask me where my vinyl is, then haggle me as the downfall of the name DJ, requesting "Panic" by The Smiths as the ultimate insult ("Hang the DJ, hang the DJ, hang the DJ ..."). So after a long week of work, freelancing in commercial production, I gussied myself up and headed to the bar. Two shady characters who bore a strong resemblance to the owners fled upon my arrival, and all eyes were on me. Gary, the raspy-voiced bartender from Donegal, pulled me aside.
"Ah, Love," he started.
I looked at the venue board. The Friday spot, typically bearing my name, was empty. I stared back at him.
"Yeah, okay," I replied. His eyes couldn't meet mine.
"I'm sorry, Love, but look at the place. There just aren't any customers, and they had to make cuts--"
I cut him off at the quick. "Well, surely they can buy a girl a drink?"
"'Course," he answered, then, looking around, slipped me a twenty. "For your inconvenience."
I drank my lukewarm Heineken silently. Truth be told, the place was empty. The college nearby closed for the summer, and took its underage patrons with it. A large TV showed the score for a recent Yankee game, where they took a heavy-handed beating from the Red Sox. A woman mumbled to her friend about training for a triathlon in two weeks, her large dog curled up at her feet. A regular came in and walked over to me.
"You aren't on tonight?" he asked.
"I got laid-off, but thanks for asking," I responded. A bitchy attitude is what my fans love most about me.
I chugged the rest of my beer. "I don't dress this way for my health, Hon."
He nodded quietly, that certain sort of nod that comes with understanding that someone's just been handed a raw deal, and there's nothing one can do except nod. I set my beer on the bar, patted my friend on the back, and headed out.
I flagged a gypsy cab on the corner, negotiated a price. Five dollars to get me, my Powerbook, and my pink-slip buzz home. The driver asked me how my night was.
"I lost my job," I replied flatly. It was true. I lost my resident DJ gig. What was I going to do on Friday nights now? Actively pursue a social life? That wasn't for me. I'm not the social type. I stay at home and read. I buy mountains and mountains of music based on recommendations from a few trusted friends. I knit sweaters. Doing those things on a Friday night just sounds sad, despite it being my true nature. The money I could sorta do without. But the activity? The act of getting dressed up in tight jeans, tall heels, and a no-nonsense top, with plenty of make-up to boot, just to stand taller than everyone else in the bar and silently declare myself The Ruler of All Music Played Here, From 10PM to 3AM? That was priceless.
I saw the driver nod in the rearview mirror. "That is okay. That means God has a higher plan for you."
I tipped him two dollars. "As long as there's beer in Heaven," I proclaimed, and shut the door.