Two months ago, after one of his friends' shows, Kevin sticks around and chats with the band. He has a particularly pleasant conversation with the pianist, a petite, friendly gal with tulip tattoos on each arm and a red feather in her hair. She giggles and smiles whenever she looks at him, though she seems to do that for everybody--Kevin can't really tell if she favors him in particular. When the next few bands come up she and Kevin sit by each other, whispering to each other, and Kevin discovers that underneath her bubbly exterior is a deep weariness--the flip side of the adventurousness that comes with choosing to dedicate oneself to music full time, after years of trying to fit it in between shitty day jobs. She's talented, brave, and penniless. "I'm twenty-seven," she explains, "and I'm not getting any younger. It's now or never." Kevin relates.
When happier music takes the stage, they get up and dance. There are six people in the audience and the two of them are the only ones dancing.
At the end of the night Kevin helps his friend's band pack up their instruments and carry them to the subway station. The scene is somewhat reminiscent of the iconic album art for the Beatles' Abbey Road, with the four band members lugging their instruments over a crosswalk. It differs from Abbey Road in that there is a fifth person trailing behind them, ferrying an amp. Kevin sets down the amp, thanks the band for a great performance, high-fives his friend, hugs the pianist, and walks away.
He then goes to a bodega and buys a beer, which he brings back to his apartment and drinks by himself.
DICK. What the hell.
BRAIN. Fuck off, dick. It was an awesome night.
DICK. You always do this to me. Always. You go and get to know women and have thoughtful, meaningful conversations while I, you let me starve.
BRAIN. Look, just because you're literally an insufferable prick--
DICK. You didn't even get her number, didn't you.
BRAIN. No. Why? I wasn't even sure she was interested.
DICK. It wouldn't have hurt to have taken the chance.
BRAIN. Yeah it would. It would have been rude, presumptuous, and embarrassing, and it would make things awkward the next time we met.
DICK. So stop being the poster child for the Taiwanese underpopulation crisis and be rude, presumptuous, and embarrassed. How fucking often do you meet a woman like her? It would have been worth the risk. And how could you possibly just assume that she would have been offended by something as innocent as asking for her number. I mean, realistically, yeah, you probably wouldn't be banging her right now, even if she liked you. You're not that kind of guy and I know you just met her. But is it really out of the question that she might be interested in, say, dinner and drinks? Or going with you to a jazz show in the Lower East Side sometime? Which might eventually lead to you and her brain matching rhythms to John Coltrane while I caress the inside of her love canal? It's not like she doesn't have a piece of equipment analogous to me, you know, which maybe might guide her actions too sometimes. Why do YOU always get to meet YOUR analogue when I--
BRAIN. You're a pretty big loudmouth for a dick.
DICK. I try.
BRAIN. And you of all people should know how cynical I am when it comes to my chances with women.
DICK. Maybe your chances wouldn't be so dismal if you'd actually go take some.
BRAIN. I take only calculated risks because I know better than to listen to you. And I don't like talking to you. Hey liver, howyadoin.
LIVER. FAKOVVVVVVVVVH (Gargles.)
DICK. Well, maybe you should. Maybe you wouldn't be so goddamned lonely if you listened to me instead of always doing the prudent, rational thing.
BRAIN. Don't you fucking go there.
DICK. I just did. Yeah? You going to do something about it?
(Kevin downs half the bottle.)
DICK. (Throbs.) Auuugh! Fuck!
BRAIN. Hahaha. Oh man.
DICK. Seriously, brain. I don't know what's with you. You're supposed to be the rational one here. She's cute. You like her. I like her. You've got music and life experiences and some personality traits in common. She's the first stranger you've developed a genuine emotional connection to in over a year. And now that you've gone on a few dates it's not like you get the heebie-jeebies trying to ask a lady out anymore, so I know you're not just wimping out. You're not asking her to marry you or anything; you just want an opportunity to get to know her and see if she's as nice as she seems. I mean, it didn't take half as much for you to ask out Molly.
BRAIN. Molly was a lesbian!
DICK. Well, you didn't know that! And neither did I! And it turned out well in the end, right? New friend. With great tits. We both won that round.
BRAIN. That's all you can think about, isn't it.
DICK. Of course. I'm a dick. You're the thinky bit.
DICK. And stop changing the subject. You. Cute pianist. No contact information, no hope of seeing again. Why.
BRAIN. She's a musician, all right? It's because she's a musician. Now leave me alone.
DICK. No I will not. That doesn't make the slightest bit of sense, and even if it did it wouldn't be true.
BRAIN. Yes it is. Go away.
DICK. You're shitting me. You love lady musicians. You relate to them. You want to fuck them. You forgive their neuroses. You want to marry them and live with them and make more of them. You've liked musicians for as long as I've liked women.
BRAIN. And that's exactly the problem.
BRAIN. (Now clearly soused.) They're too perfect.
DICK. The fuck. For crying out loud, they eat, shit, and make mistakes like any other human--
BRAIN. Shut up, dick. Shut up. They're so intense about what they do, you know, and they're so expressive. They're not content with living lives of banal mediocrity. They're...in tune. With who they are.
DICK. Ugh. Let me handle the pillow talk, 'kay, and maybe you'll have an excuse to use it.
BRAIN. Shut up! Fuck....you. No. See, it's not that there's anything wrong with them. You know that. Certain women in our life...you, in particular, know how you get around them.
DICK. Fuck yeah.
BRAIN. Yup. And, see, we go to shows and stuff, and they let it all out. They wear it on their sleeve. That intense passion we have, that scares boring women away--they have it too. Society thinks it's psycho, but to them it's just being honest. They play when the music's theirs and dance when it's not. They improvise songs, poems; they form impromptu barbershop quartets on the subway. Even when it's shit--even if you wrote down what they sang, and it was shit--for the moment, it's magic. They live in the moment, shape the moment, harness the energy of the moment. They are the sound of a dozen hands clapping.
DICK. ...Like you write. Or, at least, like you write when you're not trashed out of your mind.
BRAIN. No. No, it's not like that. I can't say, "Wait here half an hour while I write a love poem for you." What good is it if they fall in love with erf_ if it means they get stuck with Kevin? Sure, there's the whole rehearsal and practice practice practice bit. But there's a natural aptitude to music. A spontaneously exercised skill. The capability of producing an improvised product, as well as an architected one. Music, to you and me, it's a big part of who we are...but them, they ARE music. They live it. They are made of it. It's part of everything they do.
DICK. You are making less sense by the phoneme.
BRAIN. I know. I know! And I don't care. You remember, a couple weeks ago, two of your friends were freestyling drunk after Puppet Playlist--and that other time they had this great a capella thing going on--
DICK. Yeah, as if it's my fault you haven't been practicing guitar lately. I don't see the point of this.
BRAIN. You're a point. No--it's not just about the ability to sing, or play an instrument. It's about making it a way of life. A way of life I did not choose.
DICK. So choose it. It's obviously important to you.
BRAIN. Not like this. I could pick up the guitar today, forego all this programming shit, become decently good at it in five, ten years--but I wouldn't be like these people. These people, they've been practicing their entire lives. It is their lives. Their hobby, their job, their lifestyle. They majored in it, while I was banging myself against a computer desk; they work two shitty jobs forty hours a week so they can work more doing it with the rest of their time.
BRAIN. So, like, to me, they're endless sources of beauty and magic. Regular human beings, too, who eat and shit and have flaws and all that, but who every now and then have the power to create something that resonates with you. Something that resonates with me. Something more important than all the algorithms and video games and fusion reactors in the world.
DICK. But to them....
BRAIN. What could I possibly offer a musician lady in a relationship.
BRAIN. You flatter yourself.
DICK. Now don't sell yourself short.
DICK. You're pretty good with a turn of phrase when you're functioning properly. For all your idiot stubbornness, you're at least getting better at getting the ladies to notice you.
BRAIN. Well...scenario. Suppose this pianist woman does like me. Suppose I managed to persuade her, with this first impression, that I'm someone who makes her feel special. Someone she'd like to spend a Saturday night cuddling with.
BRAIN. For the sake of argument! Anyway. So. Relationship. What happens then? My relationship to the Brooklyn music scene is strictly as an audience member. And a well-liked one, apparently. But. Think of all the things the female musicians who have rejected you, the countless dozens, went on to do with their boyfriends. In front of you.
DICK. Swing dancing.
BRAIN. Contra dancing.
DICK. Blues dancing.
BRAIN. Picking up on the accompaniment when her boyfriend hums a tune.
DICK. Joining a bunch of theater friends in a chorus of Les Miserables.
BRAIN. Writing each other songs.
DICK. Teaching each other their respective instruments in their bedroom voices.
BRAIN. Making up songs on the spot.
DICK. Ballroom dancing to songs that aren't meant to be ballroom danced to.
BRAIN. And all we can do is curl up like a stone and listen.
DICK. The magic only goes in one direction.
BRAIN. Like Echo to her Narcissus.
DICK. Like Echo to her Narcissus.
BRAIN. You're not really Kevin's dick, are you.
DICK. How could you tell.
BRAIN. You're throbbing.
DICK. Kevin's dick throbs.
BRAIN. Dicks don't talk.
(DICK curls, revealing itself to be Kevin's HEART.)
HEART. Goodness, you have no idea how uncomfortable hiding like that feels.
BRAIN. How did you get to be such a selfish, desperate, inconsiderate jerk, heart.
HEART. I'm broken.
BRAIN. Long time now?
BRAIN. All those examples.
BRAIN. This doesn't happen to be all about one woman, does it.
HEART. No. But it's what my time with that woman taught you you'd never be.
BRAIN. I guess.
(The bottle is empty. LIVER screams.)
BRAIN. What the hell.
BRAIN. Pianist gal. Next show she plays, I'm going to try again.
HEART. She's going to think you're a creep.
BRAIN. I'd like to think I know better than to give her that impression.
HEART. You know better than to give her that impression because you've gotten enough women upset with you for being stupidly persistent.
BRAIN. She's twenty-seven, remember, and not getting any younger. And you're twenty-five.
(KEVIN picks up the bottle and drops it in the recycle bin.)
HEART. You're a dick.
Two months later, Kevin goes to a show her new band is opening for. She remembers him, smiles at him, sits down next to him after her set is over. She dances with him when the last band plays its final song. Moment the curtain falls, she says, "Shit! My keyboard! Gotta jet!" and runs off backstage. The rest of her new band shrugs, and trundles after her. Last Kevin sees of her is her clambering into a taxi, worriedly coaxing an enormous synthesizer into the backseat.
HEART. You know what they say: Best you'll ever be is their second love.
BRAIN. Let's go get a beer.