Rendered Fat Content


Antique Christmas Card
from The New York City Public Library's digital collection

" … who would even agree to attend … ?"

This week, I need to send out the invitations for my SetList performance. I've long planned to deliver this performance in The Villa, with me seated before the grand front window with bookshelves on either side. I've imagined my audience arrayed back into the living room, with perhaps a couple of dozen easily fitting into that space with furniture rearranged and extra chairs. A few might choose to stand. I'd keep the SetList short enough so that nobody would get too fidgety before I finished. We'd drink some wine before and more after as well as enjoy a light mobile supper. It would be a celebration as well as the conclusion of this series, my appreciation for the attention I've received through the lengthy preparation. It would also serve as an introduction of sorts, a first exposure for most present to my semi-secret songwriter background, who I once was as well as who I always was beneath my facade, and who I'll also always thereafter be. I planned it as a curious kind of coming out party.

In the two years and nine months since This Damned Pandemic locked us down, we've rarely hosted any of our usual gatherings.
We used to, with little provocation, invite a houseful over for some conversation and supper. Then, we carried little concern about contagion other than the kind concepts might introduce. We were true innocents. Now we know better, which seems much worse. The Muse insists that she'll explode if she cannot resume her socializing. I understand but am more insistent that we continue to stand firm against unnecessary exposure, and all exposure seems unnecessary. If we invite a houseful in for a concert, we're inviting in the flu as well as Covid, and also that respiratory infection that's been filling up hospitals this season. We could not maintain decent distances nor mask if we were eating and drinking together. I have no intention of convening a celebratory super spreader event.

The Muse and I face a standard, unexceptional dilemma, what I label a Want To, Need To, But Can't Conundrum. It feels exceptionally tangled, but that's more its nature than any real exception. All of them seem exceptionally inconveniencing. I've learned from past experience that no rational resolution likely exists that could satisfy all the constraining conditions. The situation screams for compromise which, in this case, could prove deadly. I know that most long ago gave up masking and that few now observe any sort of precaution. I also know that the latest variants have become even more communicable and that there's no such thing as a riskless Covid infection. This isn't one of those situations where any reasonable person could justify reckless abandon by merely declaring that they're somehow certain that everything will be fine.

I could, I suppose, produce a live stream performance and invite the world. I've noticed, though, that the video performance lacks the intimacy I'd hoped to create. An immediacy accompanies live, in-person performances that allows imperfections, even embraces them as evidence of the performer's authenticity. Recordings, even video, elicit less generosity. They goad the critic within to notice shortcomings, the ones which are certain to happen whenever live performance happens. I cannot produce a reasonable substitute, so here I sit with about ten days between now and my planned performance with a Want To, Need To, But Can't Conundrum sitting uncomfortably in my lap.

My usual resolution for these sorts of difficulties tends toward engaging in some Anything But That! behavior. I consider the dilemma as if to confirm that I am, indeed, damned whatever I might choose, to feel certain that I am seeing the world as it is and not just as I might secretly want to have had it become. I might then try to imagine the one resolution I would never, ever, never in a million years seriously consider, then propose that Anything But That! response in the perhaps misguided belief that it might result in a not-damned whatever I did result. Surprisingly, this tactic almost always works!

I've already started by telling this story, a definite no-no in the panoply of proper behaviors of a prospective host. It's almost as if I want my audience to feel guilty for inconveniencing me and my universe. I wonder who would even agree to attend should they receive an invitation? (Invitation to follow!)

©2022 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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