Usually he surfaces at the two-thirds mark, the point at which you, and most people, have moved out of the kitchen—your second spliff smoked, your third beer consumed. You end up in the big-cushioned, bohemian-couched living room, and there he is. The guy with the guitar at the party.
I’ve always gravitated toward this guy. As a matter of fact, he was usually my date or my boyfriend. The cliché that women are attracted to musicians? I’m afraid it’s true.
He’ll improvise an eclectic 1970s mix tape; a mélange as much about John Cougar Mellencamp as Bob Dylan, the Beatles, and Jackson Browne. He might get folksy—Joni Mitchell, Simon & Garfunkel, Jim Croce. Or rock out in a mellow way: something like “Chuck E.’s In Love” or better, “Baby, I Love Your Way.”
Peter Frampton, “Baby I Love Your Way” (1976)
And depending on your city, either you gravitate to this guy, or are instantly repelled and return to the kitchen, where you hold court with the structural engineer and the law student. Or maybe you wander upstairs and talk to the girls sitting on someone’s bed, weighing the derelict dilemmas of a two-weeks old blind date.
Possibly, the musician is just a cheap showman. In that case, you might begin to feel the way the manager does in this clip from “The Office” when the Ricky Gervais character, David Brent, takes centre stage in the middle of a management coaching session and breaks into his homemade rock ballad, “Free Love on the Freelove Freeway.”
BBC, “Freelove Freeway” (The Office, 2003)
You might be the kind of person who bonds with others in denial—staring at each other in disbelief, wondering if this party minstrel shutting down all conversation with his Woodstock sincerity is really worth the guitar pick he fished out of the front pocket of his Levi’s corduroys five minutes ago.
Finally, you succumb. Despite your ironic and cosmopolitan ways, you enjoy it. You lose yourself in the moment; you stop trying to say anything to anyone anymore.
You start singing along.
- Nyla Matuk