THE 20 MINUTE BREAK

They were wild! Screaming, clapping and roaring with applause.
They loved it when I sang “I will survive” made famous by Gloria Gaynor.
I, on the other hand, detested that song with the fiery passion of a thousand suns. For ten years in every single band I performed with, I was the girl that sang this crowd-pleasing show tune. And, I survived, but I was waiting for that day when this very song was laid to rest.
“All right lads and ladies, we’re gonna take a short break to get a drink and meet us back in 20”. Dj Wonder...take it awayyyyyyy!” I commanded
It was my absolute favorite part of the night. Break time.
During the last few songs before our 20-minute break, I was already thinking about getting on the elevator, heading up to the gym and locking myself in the changing room while kicking off my shoes and enjoying a good 15 minutes of undisturbed solitude. The trick was actually getting off the stage and out of the club without being sucked into too many fruitless conversations that lasted way longer than nature intended them to. The club was like a maze and I was the damn mouse hunting for the golden exit. Everyone else in my band loved the breaks so they could table hop and get free drinks while posing for selfies with too close for comfort patrons. I can’t stand the taste of alcohol so that absolutely served no purpose for me and I smiled and sweat enough on stage to deserve my break-time, and all intermitted 20 minutes of it! I earned it!
I’m not anti-social I’m just...not a big fan of...people.
“Oh my god you're amazing”!! Yelled a loud female voice from the audience as she grabbed my arm and pulled me down to take a picture with her and her friends.
I almost clobbered her over the head with my microphone on purpose by accident. Upon closer examination, I could tell she was wicked wasted and intended no harm. We took a few selfies and then she started in with the questions. The funny thing about drunk people is that for some reason they believe you can hear them clearly, in a normal speaking tone while in a crowded club with music blaring so loudly that people sleeping 2 train-stops away could complain about.
I gave up. I used to actually tell them, “Hey, I can’t hear you, could you speak up?” Now, I just nod and smile cause half of the shit they say is gibberish or compliments about what I’m wearing anyway.
“Well, how often do you work out”? The selfie girl asked while staring intently at my six-pack abs as if she would miraculously grow some of her own by willful gazing.
“ I usually work out a few times a week nothing major. This job is kind of a work out in itself right”? I said with a grin.
She smiled and took a few sips then offered me a sip from her red lipstick stained wine glass. I kindly declined. She was on the clock and I was about to turn the meter off on her ass when my bandleader walked up and kissed her on the cheek.

“Raul, heyyyy”! She said joyfully while returning a cheek kiss to him.
Looking at their body language, I could surely tell that they had done the horizontal twist and shout before. Raul grinned the kind of grin that conqueror’s grin. He stood there like a cat waiting to be tickled and belly rubbed.
As I watched them catch up I realized that my time was better spent on me and I politely excused myself from the triangle. I swear I could taste the sound of silence as I was seconds away from my blissful elevator ride up to solitude.
“Hey Phoenyx, can you sing happy birthday to my wife please”? Begged Lonni. Lonni came to see the band at least four times a week. I used to think he was just bored with no friends but turns out; he really loves us and brings the party with him every single time he shows up. He was the guy that money made a God.
If you saw him in the light of day you would make sure to never lock eyes with him for too long because he was aesthetically hideous! But, he always smelled like money. He had been coming to see the live bands at this hotel for years but apparently, he used to only come once a week. I wanted so bad to run and hide but the least I could do was take a moment or 2.5 to give the wife of our faithful patron Lonni some face time. It was obvious that Lonni cheated, I only learned that he was married recently when he added me on Facebook and I saw his relationship status. He’s always with a different working girl at his table. I don’t say anything, but I see everything.
“Of course I can sing to her”! I agreed half-hearted but convincingly.
“What’s her name and which one is she”? I inquired.
“Thanks, Phoenyx, my wife’s Tisha and she is the one with the back tattoo and blonde hair. Can you grab your microphone though cause I kind of want her to feel like she’s being serenaded, you know”? He said eagerly.
“Well how about when we come back from our break, I bring her up on stage so the whole band can sing to her, cause I don’t have my microphone with me now”.
I said, hoping he would get my drift and wait until the band was back on stage.
“Oh really? He sulked. “Cause I was thinking maybe we could sing at the exact moment she was born which is in like two-minutes...so.yeah.
” I smiled and looked to see if I could find Ayumi anywhere in sight because I was determined to not make this shit my problem. I didn’t want to seem rude but I knew that if I went back on stage to grab my mic I would get stuck in at least two other meaningless conversations. And I surely wouldn’t be able to rest my tired soles.
“Oh, and here, this is for you.” He whispered in my ear while discretely slipping what felt like paper into my hand.
I didn’t look down at what it was he slid to me, but I figured it was a tip to persuade me to abandon my plans and hop to his wishes. I shoved it into my pants, gave up the fight and bustled my way through the crowd. I grabbed my microphone and headed to the DJ booth to tell Dj Wonder about the bday request. It was uncomfortably crowded. I mean sardine-can crowded in the club tonight. “Hey, sexy!” You got a boyfriend? Called a husky voice without a face.

It was flattering to hear as always but when you work on gigs that are pretty much playboy central than you don’t take the compliments to heart.
“Hey Dj, I have a request, please. It’s Lonni's wife, her birthday is today so can you stop playing for a few moments as I sing to her?”

“Yeah, sure.“ “Let me know when.” Dj Wonder replied.
“Thank you so much”, I uttered loudly.
As I walked back over towards Lonni and his party, I struggled to not look at my watch because I didn’t want to confirm my fears of not having enough time to take a break in quiet.
“Where are you going?” Demanded Ayumi.
“Hey! Come with me Ay”! I shouted eagerly. Lonni wants us to sing to Ms. Lonni but I do not want to do this alone.
“And so...you goanna drag me over to his ugly ass? Nope, you got this, my feet are killing me so I’m going to rest, we got about 5 minutes left and I’m not getting up until then! Sorry girl.“ She said sarcastically.
I wanted to curl up in a ball and disappear. All I could think about now was the reality of the fact that I wasn’t going anywhere but back on that stage in 5 minutes. “There you are Phoenyx! You ready? Tish loves you by the way so she will be soo happy!” He grinned.
“No problem at all,” I replied as I gave the Do the thumbs up to lower the music.
“ Ladies and gents, I want to take this time on behalf of my band to wish Tisha, Wife of our most loyal customer and friend Lonnie, a very happy birthday!
Tisha was completely startled, yet grateful for the attention that she was given.
I managed to belt out the birthday song and entice the audience to participate in singing with me. Tisha was spoiled, and every girl in that club would be envious if only she didn’t have to go home and perform under those circumstances. An unattractive spouse, money or no money is nothing to write home about.
By the time I finished taking more pictures with the other guests that came to celebrate with Tish and Lonni, I was already two-minutes late to the stage.
I still hadn’t had the break of my daydreams and my song was first on the list.
I could feel Raul’s eyes on me even in a sea of colors, faces and flashing techno lights. He didn’t play that late to the stage shit...no excuses.
As I walked back towards the stage, I felt defeated.
Like the crowd won and I lost my freedom.
I would at that moment just settle for a short foot massage but there wasn’t even any time to give myself one.
Everyone was on stage already as I hesitantly climbed up the stairs and assumed my position. At least I made Lonni happy I thought convincingly.
As I bent down to pull one of my unruly knee-high boots back up I remembered the paper Lonni slipped me earlier that I stuffed into my pocket.
I pulled it out and surely; it was a $100 bill.

Suddenly, the air smelled clean and the faces in the distance were pleasant to look at. My feet didn’t hurt anymore and I was ready to rock n roll.
“Hey Phoe, we're gonna start with you singing “We found love”, cool with you? Asked Raul. He could have said I was going to sing the whole set of 45 minutes by myself and I would have still smiled. “Sure, let's do this” I responded gleefully.

As the set went on I started to go through the dilemma that all band members at some point find themselves in: deciding whether this tip was mine or going into the band fund. Nobody knew I had it and a part of me felt like I earned it for doing the bday song by myself and missing out on my peaceful relaxing break # 1 of the evening. However, another part knew it was only fair to pool all tips as we originally decided to do. I would sleep on it, I convinced myself that that was fair. And in the meantime...I was already preparing for my next 20-minute break scheduled in another 45-minutes.


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