A pre-Covid continuation of a fictional story.
During the month prior to the concert, Simpaticas was busy promoting.
He made a live appearance on morning television; he also taped
a segment for a Saturday evening program that focused on the local
New York art scene. Simpaticas was interviewed on a popular public
radio talk show for the entire hour, combining guitar riffs with
questions and answers that amounted to respectful banter; he kept
to anecdotes, nothing too personal.
"That's why I play Flamenco," Simpaticas joked--the
phrase the radio show host flipped back as a question later during
Simpaticas agreed to tour the five boroughs, the public high
schools. As a musician, he was proud to be a heritage ambassador.
He was cautious when the teenagers tried to discuss polemical
issues. Simpaticas kept to the day-in-the-life practical concerns;
how the typical informed his artistic sensibilities: when he first
picked up the guitar, when he found time to practice in between
going to school and helping to supplement his hard-working parents'
household. He mentioned the instructors who helped him along the
way throughout the years as his career began to blossom.
"Find your audience. Make them listen--really listen.
For they will encourage you to develop your talent."
Simpaticas concluded his guest lectures to the students who
were fortunate to have a scheduled music class as part of their
curriculum. At the close of an auditorium presentation flyers
were distributed, offering a discount on the student rate for
a limited block of tickets purchased through the school district.
The solicitation was permitted due to the cultural/educational
nature of the event that was taking place for one night only.
Even though he believed in the importance of community outreach
and promoting the show to the general public, Simpaticas was glad
that his daughter, Elena, was there for moral support. She, a
marketing professional, coordinated the campaign. She coached
him, provided him with memoir-ish key talking points. Some were
written down on index cards to help him refresh his memory on
the longer public speaking days. He jotted notes as well--all
of which Elena would repurpose into brief paragraphs for the playbill.
So dutiful Elena was that he nicknamed his daughter Simpatiquette.
The night of the concert, there was a meet-and-greet
with the artist a few hours ahead of the performance. Simpaticas
shook hands and took pictures with city officials and business
VIPs. He mingled and took selfies with fans who won the various
ticket giveaways. Throughout the gathering, Simpaticas was asked
what songs he intended to play. Some requested their favorite;
others amicably demanded.
"I have as much expectation as you,"
he responded with curious enthusiasm.
Simpaticas had gone over the song list with Elena;
however, he secretly resented her formalized structure that was
masked as feedback.
"You can become a spokesperson, if you play
your cards right," she advised.
"I must play my toque sequences correctly,"
he insisted, "because I'm a musician, not a streaming
The dilemma, Simpaticas wanted to support his daughter's
career, but not at the expense of his selfhood. Elena wanted her
father to write his autobiography. There were plenty of articles
about his recordings, but not much perspective from his point
of view, his life view.
"This is what your people want most of all.
Simpaticas, recounting the conversation in his
mind, did not see himself as such a person. If so, writers would
be approaching him, offering to write about his life. He feared
Elena would ask him to tone down the events in his life, neutralize
any commentary to be more appealing to the audience. He wanted
strums of words that expressed the musical depths of his experiences,
but for him, words from his mouth were an evisceration--cut guts
with no soul.
Simpaticas was becoming agitated. Elena perceived
this and encouraged the guests to locate their seats.
"Y tú, Simapatiquette."
Simpaticas went to his dressing room. He contemplated
on what he knew was going to be his final performance. What this
night meant to him, he did not know. He started to mope. He noticed
his clothes hanging on the valet stand. He stared at the starched
white shirt, pressed black suit, black oxfords polished, and socks
awaiting his enlivened corpse. Truth be told, he did not know
what he wanted to play his flared nostrils' exhaust emphasized.
Beside the valet, his guitar rested peacefully
encased, his spirit enclosed.