Cuz Of The Music I Listen To
I had no idea how much I liked the tuba.
Or the clarinet.
Well I did, once. Know how much I loved the clarinet. Love may be the wrong word. Unless you append ‘unrequited’. That’s not exactly right either. But it’s close. Close enough horseshoes hand grenades government work. The first time I met the clarinet they were walking through a glass door with an upswell of brass and strings flowing with so much possibility I missed the beat. They mistook me for someone else. My father, the snare drum, told me there’s not a broken heart that didn’t result in some good dang poetry. Nothin like a fresh sliced ventricle spilling all over the page. Sometimes I worry I lack a knife sharp enough or nerves deadened enough. Sometimes I think I let the snare drum tell me too much about myself.
You can probably imagine what’s it like to ask a clarinet to hold their hand and to be flat out turned down.
The clarinet invited me to a street festival at which their band was playing a set. As a whole, Prairie Confusion was pretty good, they were in the midst of a concept album with which the guitar’s assembled ensemble told stories of its fur trapper family emigrating French Canadia. Turned out pretty good. But the only reason I went was to hear the clarinet sling low slides and swing up top of a penumbra parabola. Their harmonies fucking killed. Sometimes I drive down the street that was, at the time of the festival, a one-way which funneled potential business away from the street-adjacent shops, or so argued the festival organizers, which was the reason the festival was organized, such as to draw community attention to the argument, thereby highlighting community involvement in focusing on the argument in a simultaneous, and monetary, fashion. Nowadays I drive both east and west in a non-simultaneous fashion through the Blackstone District West O Circa 1889 or whatever and see tequila drunks flirt with cars on the exact spot the clarinet spun me away and interlocked my fingers with those of a maraca set painted with sunflowers, the pigment filling deep channels in their skin. I walked with the maracas by the lake downtown, their arms crooked in mine. It was after both our work shifts were over and I kissed them that night and they asked me what that was for and I didn’t answer. Later on, I’d hear the maracas tell me they just weren’t in the same place as I was, responding to a voicemail I’d left them when I was just a bit too drunk and a bit too high saying I wished they were back in town cuz I could use a shoulder to cry on because of something the clarinet did, no doubt, but I didn’t tell em that part. Very soon after that I answered a call from the clarinet and I told them the sad tale of the maracas and me and the clarinet told me perhaps the maracas were looking for something a little less codependent.
The first time I’d gone to the clarinet’s apartment, not the one they had now but the first one I knew they had, they had a cartoon Gemini magnet on their fridge that they talked about a lot. And they reminded me about it, the Gemini thing, not the magnet thing, while we’re stepping out of their car and it starts to happen, the thing that happens a lot when I’m around the clarinet these days and I’m in a state of being all sucked up into the back of my skull, smiling out of my eyes which are on the ground. The dark of the night settling down into the summer warmth. I’d woken up that day to the clarinet calling me and asking if I had to work that day. It was my day off and then the clarinet asked me if I wanted to come over before the party wink wink nudge nudge say no more. We spent the next four hours watching documentaries in their bed where also a third of that time was me pressing their keys exactly how and no longer than they wanted which is what they asked me if I could do without getting my genitals involved. When I got up to go to leave, they told me to shower with them.
So now we’re walking, the clarinet and me, up to the party in the dark after closing the car door and I’ve just agreed to something the clarinet said and that’s when I ask if I can hold their hand and they say no and put a smoke in their mouth.
The doorway’s a yellow slab against a green-dark night.
Inside there’s spin the bottle and I end up kissing a french horn who announces I’m a good kisser and a while later would tell me in the hopes to either cheer me up or shut me up about the clarinet and my hurt feelings, that if they weren’t married they’d sleep with me and would even later divorce the trumpet. They didn’t tell me that then, they did it later. The divorce. Not the telling me about it. There’s poured shots and beer and grape risotto and a hookah. I have clove cigarettes and lots of alcohol and three too many clove cigarettes and in multiple rooms of the house everyone is goin to town on everyone else. Just makin out and dry humpin all over the place. I walk into a room where the clarinet has their leg around a kick drum and the kick drum is working the clarinet’s keys and I’m walking around with a beer and I’m walking around to each room and each room I walk into has at least two couples dry humping and me. I ask my friend the harmonica if I could lick their asshole. I ask this question in the bathroom. While they’re in here with me. While I pee. I ask this after I kiss them in the bathroom but before I pee. The harmonica doesn’t say no but enthusiastic positive consent is important. Before I kissed the harmonica they were dry humping on a beanbag with an electric bass. I wake up in a beanbag chair. The clarinet is gone but I see texts on my phone that they had to go to work.
That might be wrong. They might’ve driven me home. Maybe even smoked me out again. I can’t remember.
I’d broken down their door, a few times. Two times. Both times because they asked me because they’d forgotten their keys inside. Lucky thing I had just seen a thing online about how to properly kick down a door. You gotta make the bolt latch the pressure point. Both times it worked pretty well, although I was disappointed that the second time took two kicks. Both times the clarinet said they’d tell their landlord someone was trying to break in. Both times they told their landlord they’d left their keys inside. Both times I was hopeful they’d reward me with affection even though this was after I’d told them that if the only way to have them in my life was to have them as a friend then I wanna be their friend and they’d paused then said okay, but this was way before we were roommates. Both times this is not what happened.
When the clarinet was in the shower, I had, by their suggestion, put in my earbuds and mimicked the drums and the guitar, the fiddle and the bass while sideways horizontal on their bed, still in the euphor from the improvisized jam session. The clarinet came back in a robe and watched, while I pretended not to notice they watched, eyes closed and way too high and happy there in their bed, thrashing the sheets. When the song ended, the clarinet said they had to go to work.
I was asleep and drawn from it by a pink blue blinking light and I pick up my phone and press a flashing cassette and hear the clarinet squealing condescension and incredulity that I wasn’t answering before a hang-up. The song was strained and fugueless, jumping from chord to chord on top of one another a progressive composition about how the clarinet wanted me to drive back to the vineyard to pick them up, and the mandolin, and the guitar, and the microphone the upright the drum kit and the tambourine and take them all back home. There’s another flashing cassette and I press it and here’s one that’s 11 minutes long but most of it is noise where the clarinet tells the others their friend has a minivan and then the naked song of the clarinet dialing a number I was pretty sure was supposed to be mine. 3 hours earlier, the clarinet told me they’d have another ride home from the keyboard. 22 seconds before that, they said I had fulfilled my duty and could go home if I wanted. 2 hours before that everyone played some stuff off of Canada, Ho! wearing matching stone grey suits and goldenrod pocket squares. 43 minutes before that the guitar married the tambourine. 37 minutes before that the clarinet lit two cigarettes in their mouth and passed one over to me. 258 seconds before that the clarinet asked me to give them a ride home. 2 days before that they told me they wouldn’t need one the important thing was that they got there and it’s like a free concert anyways and there’s food and booze and they’d smoke me out when I didn’t answer right away which they definitely made good on but the bar was definitely not an open one and I still never carry cash but back then it was when I didn’t have any money whatsoever. The snare drum had filled my last tank.
There were three more mixtapes and one was like 2 seconds and I pressed the shape again and held the thing to the side of my thing and kinda go back to sleep with it that way but then I hear the clarinet. It’s a lazy dark reading with no resolution. A new brighter measure before the old one fades out. A stand out, really, rambling and unconnected. But honest. Very honest and that effort had to be appreciated. I can never remember how it sounded. We went to the wedding four days after watching a Netflix conspiracy doc that the clarinet asked me to take to the post office the next day while they were at work.
The clarinet texted me while I was at work, saying to come over. This was way after we had been roommates. So it was also way after I had decided to go full fledged into the idea that we’d never be together and that we’d truly just be friends and that I had told them so as they were putting on shoes and they paused and said okay. So we were truly just friends then. We were close friends who used to know their ways around each other’s nethers. Former partners in bumping our uglies, in crushing respective guts. Getting various stanks on multiple hangdowns. Didymous pieces found under carnal knowledge of deep dark admitted secrets at deep dark hours under deep dark influences. Like a sitcom ex. Who could ask for favors no one else would grant. Like looking at a thing that was worrisome. Like rides to anywhere. Like recompensing half-price for food stamps. Like being told I should just crash on the couch tonight. Like being told don’t let me sleep with anyone tonight and agreeing to it. Like being told I can’t trust myself on whiskey with these painkillers but I can’t get out of bed without painkillers and I can’t go to sleep without whiskey and then paying for a couple shots cuz they’re broke. We said we’d just smoke this weed and then take shots of whatever was in the freezer cuz pregame is free and then we’d head out. At the bar down the street from the clarinet’s apartment was a woodblock that worked at the bike shop frequented by the clarinet. After the woodblock bought the three of us shots, the clarinet leaned in to me and whispered.
“Don’t let me sleep with them.”
The woodblock followed us around all night. Outside for cigarettes with a lighter at the ready. Over by the jukebox with the app open. The bar counter new drinks back outside for one-hits. The woodblock walked behind us as we were loud and drunk and stoned back up the street to the apartment. The woodblock was standing in front of me when the clarinet was unlocking the door. The woodblock turned to me and said welp gnight. I followed them upstairs and was still drunk on the couch when the woodblock followed the clarinet into their bedroom at the end of the hall and heard the door slam.
I loaded a bowl with the clarinet’s weed. I opened their computer and watched porn in an incognito window. I closed it and cleared the cache before I went to sleep. I threw the kleenex away. I closed the lid.
In the morning the clarinet woke me up by swatting me in the leg. They sat on the couch in a robe and smoked a cigarette and I had one too then even though that’s my least favorite breakfast. They said they’d make eggs if they had any and I wanted some. I said I would love some eggs if they had any but I had to go to work pretty soon. The clarinet knocked ash off their smoke and asked me how drunk we’d gotten and I told them a lot and they said they didn’t remember bringing anyone back home until they saw the woodblock putting their shirt on.
“Thought I told you not to let me.”
The clarinet pushed me with their shoulder. The clarinet smiled with their teeth and got up and went into the kitchen.
“Well you better go if you’re gonna.”
But I’d already gotten my jacket on and was up. I told the clarinet yeah and I told the clarinet I’d see them later and walked to the door and opened it and stepped through and was hit by a cascade of horns blaring two three four rest two three four rest two and each horn and each dissonant blast brought with it the recollection of how many times I’d already gotten my jacket on and was up and told the clarinet yeah and told them I’d see them later and walked to the door and opened it and stepped through and was hit by a cascade of horns repeat two three four rest two three four an unravelling bolero counted out in crescendoed steady 3 4 til the end of the measure and repeated down the stanza rest two three four rest two three four and in the kitchen the clarinet started singing and I closed the door behind me.