Bidding you Badu

Late spring, early summer – 1998. Lawrence, KS. Sticky-humid, the air during the day makes you apt to avoid real labor, moving around too much brings tiny beads of sweat to your forehead and at night the humidity instigates your more animalistic instincts – something about the start of summer calls together cosmology, meterology, ecology, cartography, biology, and psychology to color this particular time and place with a subtle sexuality and sense of ecstastic abandon.
You’re in an apartment without air conditioning, so the windows are open, curtains closed. The sounds of nightlife trickle in and about: snippets of conversations, traffic, car doors closing, laughs, yells…
You’ve a half-full glass of lemonade sweating on a nicked, chipped, and worn,wooden coffee table beside you. Asserting its right to be here now, your sweating glass writes a circular graffiti tag that intersects marks made by glasses come before.
You lounge on a faded, red couch while a ceiling fan on low speed pushes a teasing breeze down upon your bare chest.
Against the room’s north wall sits a standalone, wooden cabinet, small and squat like the coffee table and just as aged. Two candles flicker on top of the cabinet and inside the cabinet is a small stereo, its two accompanying speakers placed on the floor next to the cabinet.
Your host enters the room and smiles.
“You’ve got to hear this,” says the host, interrupting the current CD (Soul Coughing’s ‘Ruby Vroom’) to put in another. “No, no, keep your eyes closed.”
You pick up your lemonade and rest the glass on your belly button. Beads of water drip down your right side onto the couch underneath, though the pinkish fabric barely shows any signs of wetness.
So you do close your eyes, and through that lazy air comes some soulful voice captured in a live setting, backed by an interesting rap-influenced jazz band with lyrics that also seem very much inspired by hip-hop culture. The songs are new, yet familiar.
And damn if that music, that album, ain’t a perfect fit for such a moment. Damn if it don’t just synch right up with the mood, the heat, the place, the timing, the everything.
You have these moments every now and again when the music and the situation come together so perfectly. In the past it might have been Pink Floyd in the fall, while sitting in a Dillon’s parking lot and watching families pick out pumpkins for Halloween. In the future it may be decorating for Christmas while listening to David Bowie (however incongruous that may seem).
And it’s these remembered moments that make you up; scenes of delight and tragedy edited together by a rarely-considered, internal author into the story of you. Rewrite a scene, erase one, ignore one, or add a new one and you’re slightly changed. Erase them all, and you’re someone different. Now there may be an unchangeable You sitting and watching this narrative unfold but that’s a philosophical charge for another day. Today’s philosophical charge is simply the consideration of you as a story told to yourself (tropes and clichés, metaphor and allegory, where sometimes the plotting and characterizations seem to blend perfectly, where sometimes the surprising sequence here forces the use of another unlikely bit there) all in an attempt to recognize and understand any narrative patterns or frameworks that the story of you exhibits. Not a slight charge, by any means, but a worthy one.

Bidding you Badu

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