Monday night again is Stone Soup. Every time I leave there, I tell myself I'm not going anymore. It's populated mostly by old men past sixty (often past seventy), with the occasional old woman thrown in for variety. Features are sometimes different. I met Red there at her feature a few weeks ago, and other features I've seen, though all men, vary in age at least. Some have even been in their late twenties or early thirties.
Which still leaves me, female and barely cracked into the mid-twenties, an oddity. Monday Red and Thade and I come together, sit together, and read together. We make the venue seem younger, but I realize in one moment's contemplation that without us, that element would not exist. So we're filmed again for Bill Perrault's TV show, which may make it seem to others watching that young people are at least represented in the venue, (which who knows, may bring more young people in the future) but for now, we're sitting and reading for ourselves.
Every time I go, I also pick up a weird vibe. Thade said he noticed it too, so I don't think I'm too insane. When I read, I feel leered at, as if the fact that I'm young, female, and attractive overshadows whatever words may be coming out of my mouth. When I wait afterward to mingle, the feature (a man in his late forties at least) nudges Chad, the moderator. "You should make her a feature. The place would be packed with all her groupies. You'd get all the hot 20-year-old boys. All those twenty-year-olds with slim curves." With the slim curves comment, he's quoting a line from one of my poems back to me. He looks at me. "Guys my age have curves too, they just go out instead of in." I consider telling him that line was written about a girl, but refrain.
Thinking of Central Square and its venues, I wonder which leaves me with a sicker feeling. Stone Soup, where I feel like I get the wrong kind of attention, or the Cantab, full of slam poets who all know each other and won't talk to me, who relegate me to the table in the back like a group of cool kids in the lunch room.
Riding back on the subway, we all talk about other possible venues. Red tells us about a couple possibilities. I want to try different places, experience different crowds. It's important to me to be heard, but speaking words in a crowded room doesn't necessarily mean anybody is listening.