Saturday, June 20, 2009

Streetcorner ballerina

Today was an altogether new job experience; I started work as a Sign Holder.

I'd thought that this would be a straightforward matter of selling my body to the market in a whole new way, but no; not at all. There's much more to it. Perhaps this wouldn't be so if I weren't such a perfectionist, but here we are.

You see, there are people in all those cars. People who are bored, hurried, tired, stuck. Waiting, at the light. Captive people, who will expect a fake and tired smile, half hearted sign wiggling, whole hearted efforts to avoid eye contact. They will watch me count the minutes. We could all be zombies together, I supposed, and I would still get paid. . . But I am not a fan of Terrible.

So it goes something like this. I walk; sign held aside, arms moving adagio, third and fourth. I am listening to well tempered clavier on guitar without an ipod, feet pointed, tracing, articulating; torso lifted, ever so subtle the epaulement. I am open, projecting, concert hall virtuoso making sparkling eye contact with every passing car. At the change of the light I return to the corner and hold the sign out like a barre, doing a few rounds of exercises while the audience returns again.

And they watch; they more than watch. My favorite expression is on the faces of the ones so clearly delighted it can barely be contained.

After an hour I can't hack the precision for ballet. I try African, ballroom; general overplayed goofiness. They stop watching; some give the ultimate insult, too cool to make contact, eyes resolutely ahead. I am tired. I wonder why the coffee shop doesn't put just their advertising money into sponsoring community events in the arts, and then remember--this is not expected of me. We are all used to be zombies.

It seems a little elegance and calm, warm-wrapped in irony, has clearly been the order of the day.


___________________________ said...

I wouldn't dance on street corners to be honest. Also being a literal zombie might be interesting. Have you ever thought about standing there muttering "brains" over and over again?

Day said...

So, wait. . . are you stating that you wouldn't personally dance on a street corner, or advising me not to?

___________________________ said...

I didn't catch this until MUCH later, sorry.

I wouldn't personally dance on a street corner. I am not a very good dancer. Have no training.