Back to Main

For My Friends in the Band

By H.G. Miller

As these things usually happen, somebody forwarded me an email they had received from somebody else, who initially sent this message to the hundred and fifty odd addresses on their email database program. Surely pissing off the IT department at our office, my friend forwarded the invitation to another sixty-four people in our immediate working area, all of whom I'm sure sent the thing out into the world for anybody with online capabilities to read.

And so, in this manner, I'm positive that some confused banana vendor in Southern China knew about this concert happening at a local bar this past weekend, starring some girl I've never met who works in a department I didn't even know existed.

Considering myself a supporter of the arts, I put my weekly toenail clipping on hold, braved the near-lukewarm drizzling rain that signifies a Los Angeles “Winter,” and headed out to get drunk and listen to some music.

At the bar, I ran into a few other people from the office. About five minutes into one conversation, I realized that the girl I was speaking with had also been in Long Beach for my fated night of drinking like I was still in college. (Please refer to Long Beach column)

As we continued to talk, the answers to those inane questions about living arrangements, hometowns and psychotic ex-boyfriends became increasingly familiar. A few more minutes into the conversation, and I started to have strong recollections about the answers to these questions that I was giving her.

“Are we having the same conversation we had last week?” I asked her.

“I think so,” she replied.

“So, you don't remember anything, either?”

“I guess not.”

“Well, cheers to that.”

Eventually, the band began to play, and we no longer had the sonic capabilities to converse with each other, so my attention turned to the stage. Coincidentally, my thoughts began to focus on the theme of this particular literary endeavor of mine.

I had seen the girl in the band before. In the elevator at work. My not knowing who she was or what she did is just the byproduct of working at one of Satan's large corporate entities slowly pushing the world towards Armageddon.

She always seemed normal enough to be stuck in the cubicle universe that so many of us inhabit, but there she was up on stage, goading the audience into joining her in the ecstatic act of singing. Flailing about as if there were a stadium of twenty-thousand people cheering her on.

Fun to watch, to say the least. And certainly not the behavior of a productive member of the capitalistic entity for which she is employed. Or is it?

Look at me. My job requires the manipulation and understanding of numbers. Currency calculations, circulation statistics, reach and frequency levels. Definitely not what I studied as an English major in college.

Quite honestly, nobody really gives a shit how the gross cost of a full-color ad in some Middle-Eastern publication might be interpreted from a Freudian perspective. So, in what way does my job define me?

Given the opportunity, I would have simply described the girl on stage as I knew her: some female who rides the elevator and works where I work. She probably has some funky-colored poster at her desk in order to show a personality.

I have a picture my sister drew and this funky thermometer my grandmother gave me at my desk. These are the outwardly things people must use to judge me. That and my job. God, how boring. I wonder how many people just assume that I spend my nights at a computer, only reaching out to the world through the internet, afraid to post my thoughts in any forum that I can't control… Okay, bad example.

Let's go back to the girl. She obviously has a lot more pep in her life than her job would allow. Somehow, she still allows herself to dream of being something more than a wage-earner, trapped inside the walls of an office building for the rest of her life.

And, aren't we all that way? Even if it's just a little bit. We all go through school and land jobs in order to keep from starving, but how many of us would like to be rock stars, or poets, or beach bums if our better judgment would just let us?

Well, I refuse to be defined by what I must do in order to pay rent and buy groceries. I'm wearing a cape to work tomorrow and letting it be known that I always wanted to be Superman as a kid growing up, and now I'm taking the opportunity to shine.

I need to do something drastic to let the world know I'm here and I'm amazing and I'm more than what my pay stub says I am.

If I can't find a cape, then I'll just use a safety pin to secure a red towel around my neck. Or, maybe I'll just get a new desk trinket. Something shiny that makes a little noise.

That would probably do it.