Friday, April 6, 2007

Black Mass.

Thursday Thade and I are in Harvard Square sushi restaurant celebrating the marriage of two old friends. Since I'm not working the next day, when dinner is over we decide to check out Squawk Coffee House, which is held in the Harvard Epson Methodist Church every Thursday starting at around 9:30.

I've heard about Squawk, and I've always meant to check it out. It's been described to me as "crazy" and "interesting." I also remember someone saying that the crowd is a little on the unemployed side because of the strange meeting time, but I've been unemployed many times in my life and don't think that necessarily means anything negative.

We enter and are stopped by a grey-haired woman with weird glasses in a purple turtleneck and a vest. "It's three dollars. Do you have three dollars?" she says to Thade, blocking his way and pointing to a large jar on a table behind a huge sign that says in thick block letters: "Suggested Donation $3." Thade says he doesn't have any cash on him, so the woman approaches me as I try to walk in.

"I understand you're going to be paying for your friend as well. So that'll be six dollars." She extends a flattened supine palm like an exaggerated French bellhop. I open my wallet and give her a five and a one.

"Thanks!" she says smiling, and moves out of my way.

Even though we're there at nine thirty, the show hasn't started yet. The crowd is younger than at Stone Soup, but I only see two other people who look like they're in their twenties. A lot of forty- and fifty-year-olds, a lot of weird thirty-somethings. I'm uncomfortable already, and then a beligerent guitarist takes the stage and starts to banter with the crowd.

More and more people are trickling in. They are strange. They are Gothic and dumpy, or they wear "funky" outfits like big sunglasses, a chain belt, feather boas, leather, and animal print. One guy comes in wearing a pirate hat. I lean over in my chair and hang my head between my legs.

The MC is on stage now. He is a round fortyish man with long black hair and a wicked goatee. He and the audience are participating in some bizarre call-and-response. It's only then I realize I'm in a church, and he must be preaching.

"I was thinking the other day about what I'll miss when I'm dead." He shouts to intermittent cries of "Yeah!" from the audience. He continues. "I'm going to miss my mouth. I'm not going to be able to talk when I'm dead. I mean, even if you can communicate with telepathy, it's just not going to be as good. So I'm going to miss Coffeehouse. I can't live without Coffeehouse. So that's why I say, 'Coffeehouse, every Thursday until eternity!'"

The crowd is clapping, and they chant, "Every Thursday until eternity!"

He says, "We're never going to stop!"

They repeat, "We're never going to stop!"

He says, "Coffehouse is lifeblood!"

They repeat, "Coffeehouse is lifeblood!"

He says, "Fortuitous loquation!"

They repeat, "Fortuitous loquation!"

He says, "Fortuitous loquation!"

They repeat, "Fortuitous loquation!"

He says, "Fortuitous loquation!"

They repeat, "Fortuitous loquation!"

This goes on for way too long. I don't usually feel uncomfortable in these situations. I've seen some weird rituals, but now my heart is pounding and I feel nauseous thinking about reading here. I stand up, grab my bag and my coat, and run out.

"Bye!" the beligerent guitarist calls at me, sneering.

Thade and I run back to the Square. We meet a friend of mine from work and go have beer at Charlie's Kitchen. I'm winding down, but I'm still upset, still frustrated. There just has to be, in Boston of all places, something better than this.

1 comment:

Hillary Demmon said...

you managed to run out NOT screaming. i couldn't have done it.