I was out on the town with some friends the other night – Peeps, really (yes, I have them) – having tacos. It was live music night at the place we were at and the show was fine as far as live music at places that serve tacos go.
There was no headliner. No main act. Just a string of performers, giving their best. Or at best giving their all.
During a lull in the music, one performer’s friend came to the tables with a jar (big, plastic, thoughtfully crude) to hit up the audience for “donations”.
(Though, most of us had come as and probably would have preferred to have remained, simply, diners).
As she made the rounds, we found ourselves confronted by the nagging expectation that seeped out from the open maw of the jar. None of us had cash. But I did have a few coins in my pocket. My “subway insurance fund” in case I come up short for fare, which has never happened.
(The math makes no sense).
She arrived, jar thrust out at arm’s length, right under my nose. I reached into my pocket and pulled out my bounty.
“Um, all I have is 50 cents on me. I’d offer it up, but I don’t want to embarrass you with my poverty.”
“That’s okay! We’re talking about musicians here! Anything you have, they’ll take.”
The performer, the one for whom the jar was appreciative charity (the jar was for the “musicians” but she had been the only one that played at that point), had brought her parents and friends with her to the show. And though she had “been at it” for three years, I couldn’t help but notice the untroubled ease – the unbothered safety – from which she played her set.
The isolated enthusiasm of her entourage.
The crisp bills they stuffed into the jar before it was released to the general populace.
The perfect crease in her father’s kakis.
I dropped one of the quarters in the jar, palmed the other.