If you had to chose between the two, seeing and hearing, many would pick seeing. That which you see exists outside and independent of time; eternal, you might say. All images, such as that of the Lisping Barista dancing, you apprehend all at once, when you come across them, as if time did not exist. The things we hear are not that way. It takes time to unfold the meaning and structure of sound. Then, once it’s unfolded, it disappears, as ephemeral as a flower. So, because hearing must play along with time and seeing can blindly pretend as if time does not exist, seeing is better than hearing, many believe.
As much as they loved the music, many of the listeners of the Spellbinding Fish Fry, by the end of the set, would be likely to agree. It was great while it lasted, but when it was over, it was over.
The music festival had continued in a happy vein long into the night. The zydeco band was replaced by an Irish band, which led into an indeterminate period of silence, as everyone waited for the Spellbinding Fish Fry, chronically late, to arrive and take the stage. No one was sad during that period of silence. The Deep Fries were hopped up on hope, a plentiful supply of smoke, and a steady buzz of the promise that everything would be right with the world. A couple dozen stoners even continued to dance, even though there was no music, still wound up from the zydeco and the Irish jigs.
When the Spellbinding Fish Fry, at last, took the stage, the stars of that warm summer night had already come out to hear them. The moon emerged from behind a cloud just to see what all the applause was about. When the musicians struck their first chords, the planets had, at last, something to dance to. The Milky Way could join hands and sing. The band played long into the night. If they could have played long enough, all the debris from the big bang could have come back together, fitted themselves whole, and gone on as if nothing ever happened.
As it was, the band had to stop. The fingers of the guitarists and the fiddler, as strong as they were, began to cramp. The vocalists’ throats were scraped raw. The drummer developed carpal tunnel. The dancers lost the beat. The upright bass player could no longer remain upright. Once again the possibility that humans could make the world anew faltered on human limitations. Once again, the night took over and everyone had to stop.
As the musicians filed off the stage, a dusky, dumpy man with Asian eyes took their place. At any other festival, the headliners, the Spellbinding Fish Fry, in this case, would have closed it down; but this festival was committed to doing things differently. A Mongolian throat singer followed their act. He stood alone, without accompaniment or amplification, and began to intone whole chords all at once. He was singing sad songs of the Siberian steppes, but the audience, which was sad already, and didn’t know Mongolian, took them to mean sadness that another attempt to better the world had fallen short. All that was left was one cheerless, out of shape, alien man, singing alone, trying to be a whole choir with his one voice.
Most of the crowd began to gather their stuff and head home. That’s the way it goes, they said to themselves. What can you do? They’re playing in Portland next week. All the Deep Fries will be there. But the Lisping Barista could not accept defeat. She wanted to keep it going forever. When the music plays, everything’s alright. When it stops, everything turns to shit.
At this point, she and the Geeky Guy had been sitting in the grandstand. The Rugby Player and the Fat Woman with Too Much Makeup had already moved on and were planning their route to Portland. The Geeky Guy thought they’d be leaving, too; but the Lisping Barista just sat there. He looked over and found her weeping.
“Are you all right?”
“Do you want to talk about it?”
“What do you want to do?”
She swung her leg over him and straddled him. Her feet hung under the bleachers. She grabbed him by the lapels and kissed him deep. Her tears made his face wet. When she stopped kissing him, they were both out of breath.
“I want to fuck. I want to fuck my brainth out.”