On my walk past the Duomo and a few shops I stop to pick up a gelato that is way too expensive and isn't the best I've had. Still, it gets the job done and I'm happy with my choice of hazelnut and chocolate. Walking along I hear some beautiful jazz guitar and I decide to stop and listen. In my newly typical Eat, Pray, Love fashion I ask myself, "Why not enjoy some of the last bits of summer warmth, some decent enough ice cream, and some excellent jazz guitar playing?" Why not indeed.
Now, I've sat down for all of two minutes when this guy who immediately gives me bad vibes sits down uncomfortably close to me and asks me something about Africa. I tell him I wouldn't know, since I'm American and have never been to Africa. And even if I had been there whatever experience I had wouldn't have spoken for the entire continent... I'm annoyed, but I can condescend to be amused by his ignorance. "He just doesn't know any better," I tell myself while soothing my recently healed anger reflex to such questions. I was doing well, but this guy, well he just doesn't quit. He barely misses a beat, pumping me for critical information so he can make his move. How long have I been here? What do I do? Would I give him my number? Would I take his instead? Will I call him? Will I teach him English? Will I take his number and call him and teach him English?
He really did repeat questions like he was on some kind of loop. I don't know how long you can employ closed off body language signals and politely refuse a guy before he takes a hint and gives up. I told him bluntly that I wouldn't take his number and wouldn't call him if he gave me his, and I called him on the BS of his suddenly wanting English lessons. "Well I do want English lessons. And anything else you'd be willing to offer." (rough translation)
There's only so much a girl from the hood can take before the roots make themselves known. Maybe he sensed the impending danger and decided to make his escape before my patience ran out. Perhaps he grew tired of trying to wear me down, but he made sure to remind me of the nights of mindless passion I had tossed away by refusing him. (Ugh. Blegh! [insert preferred sound of disgust]) Either way, he left, and the jazz busker took a cigarette break at the very same moment.
Sleaze-Man immediately forgotten, out of my mouth bursts the question that's been burning in me since I walked past him to sit down. "Can I play?" He looks at me and I tell him I'm a singer songwriter. "Will you let me play?" He asks me what I play and seems to like what he hears. He waves me over and I drop my half eaten ice cream cone in a nearby trash can and head for his guitar and mic stand like an oasis in the desert.
I've wanted to busk in Europe since I started busking. Another dream coming true. I sang a couple of tunes and then we did "Stand By Me", by the request of the second gentleman (nicknamed Becky, short for his last name of Beekmeyer, a colonial holdover that we both laughed about and could relate to, since in a way Fletcher is a holdover as well) you can see in the pictures below. (In fact, it was Becky who was so kind as to take these pictures of me and tag them on facebook for me. Yay!)
Basically that one blurted out question made my day. I had a blast performing, drew a crowd, and earned a few euros that I graciously left in Simone's (that's the busker's name) case. I'd say it was a good day, and I can be nice about Sleaze-Man. Sort of. Here are some pics of the action.