We shot a movie. It was silly. It was weird. It was simple. We used puppies to do a jailhouse movie that was long on cute and short on plot.
It was more about money than art. There is nothing wrong with getting paid and five hundred bucks could go a long way. Nobody was there for any other reason. The competition offered no prestige, only a prize.
My team had three. Two of us came for the show, sat in the dark and handicapped the competition. We stood up pretty well. We were clever, funny and very different. We had novelty and we were coherent. These counted in our favor and our actors were as good as anybody.
At the break, fetching drinks from the convenience store down the street and joking about picking up 40s of malt liquor, we broke down our chances.
I figured we'd take the bronze. He figured we might clear the silver.
We lost. Bigger than shit, we lost and it hit me hard. Sour grapes. I hate losing, but I tried to stick around for a few minutes. There were plenty of losers there. I tried to be one of the crowd for once instead of the guy watching.
Standing off to the side, another filmmaker came up to me with a cup of wine in his hand. "So, that was your opus? Puppies?"
Another just stared through me, oddly hostile.
These were people I knew. It was strange to be observed and held in contempt.
Once upon a time, a guitarist whose work I admire asked me why I didn't play anything. He thought I could, even thought I might be good --if I tried.
I told him I never wanted to give up being slightly in awe of what he did. I needed to keep some little bit of innocence. I love music because I love music, not because I understand the mechanics of how it's done. I appreciate they're there, but I like magic to be magic.
That afternoon, I was given another reason: There is no place for me here. I will never be welcome. I will always be suspect and I can never trust anyone who would ask me to join the club because they don't want me. They want what I can give them.
I am a resource, a utility and an outlet --not an artist. For the price of a little coverage, I am welcome to pretend, however, to be anything I want.
Otherwise, I should just take it outside.
Leaving the theater, a woman I'd spoken to about poetry once asked me, hopefully, "You had a good time, right?"
And I did. Right up until the end, when I remembered who I was.