It’s hard to know what an audience at A Night is thinking…or feeling. For one, they aren’t really an audience, they’re unintentional allies in a ceremony. They don’t seem to know it, but we do. Beyond the applause and standing O’s, there is the ever foggy sense of “are they with us?” as we spin the kind of glass that we do. No suspension of disbelief is required for this kind of evening. The deal we are trying to make with them is a different one altogether. If there is good will in the building, we can generally pick up on it, but it’s not always clear.
The morning after the Moab Night in front of a full house – which was a free event sponsored by a local hospice organization – I’m doing laundry in the local laundromat. As I finish emptying the dryer, I turn to find an older gentleman a foot away, staring at me.
“I saw you last night,” he says. “It was a wonderful event. I have a few questions for you, if you have the time.”
Always an iffy proposition, and more SJ’s territory than mine, but I’m curious so I figure, what the hell.
He asks about why we don’t have an intermission, about the set list, a couple other things, and I do my best to answer as I fold my laundry.
Then he asks, “What did you think of the audience?”
That was a stumper. Besides the cell phones going off despite the plea to have them silenced and the full-blown conversation from a deep-voiced individual during the first 10 minutes (dealt with A LOT more grace by SJ than I am capable of), there was the ever present aforementioned foggy sense of just whose side they were on.
I relay this as best as I can, he listens thoughtfully, and almost like a plea he says, “I thought they were with you the whole night, attentive and completely riveted.”
Huh. “Well, I’m glad to hear that,” I manage. He gives me a few tips on what to see around the area before I leave for Colorado (which I took him up on…thanks, John), we say our polite goodbyes and I head out the door into the Moab heat with my folded laundry.
If you ever find yourself walking a tight rope in front of a crowd that no one has asked you to walk, go to a laundromat the next morning. You might find out how you did. No matter what you thought at the time.
Sept 19, 2022, Boulder, Colorado.