The bassist finds the pulse of the music and manages it like a pacemaker. I’ve seen him before—it seems his innate ability to stoke the groove and own it has made him a staple in whatever music scene exists in this Connecticut college town. The drummer is crisp and poppy in his performance. With his thick black sticks, he tings the ride cymbal’s bell, accenting the singer’s whole tones. And the lead guitar player is electric; his wild hair streaks out as if the current jolts through him. His PRS screams—hypnotic, overdriven. The crowd bobs toward the stage in a trance.
With all hip kids and wannabes closing in on me, I retreat to the corner and lean against a lone stanchion. When she comes over, too, I dance with my friend from sociology class, Erin, who laments how tough it is to be queer.
She’s just had several desperate interactions with hetero-drunk-bitches who only like to act gay after they’ve had a couple drinks. I send her to the bar to buy us a drink of her choice. And I monitor her progress by following her spiky red hair and silver facial piercings through the mass of frat boys and flat-brims.
She returns with two double shots of tequila. We toast “to finding someone who fits.” The liquor sets fire to our melancholies and we dance the night away, our motions in rhythm for the entire set.
Later, outside her place, in the cold New England fall, my warm car idling behind us, she gropes me slightly and brings the side of her mouth to mine. I palm the bottom of her breast and pull her in closer with my free hand. But before we can spark, she pries us apart.
“You can’t change me, you know. You straight guys always think you can, but you can’t.” She rushes inside and doesn’t turn back.
And, even though we hang out many times after this night, when I graduate and leave town she never answers my calls again.