Sinister Love:  The Homeless and Theatre Majors Problem


Between the homeless, and super hot, theatre major, exchange students, my life was full of crazy. That always supplied enough artistic ammo for me to keep coming back to these patterns.  Somewhere I’ve developed the defenses and awareness to be around unstable people,  keep a safe distance, and a subtle boundary, so the crazy feels safe enough to flow like… well, there is no metaphor for this, and it doesn’t flow.  I was more like the guy that purposely sat in the front row of a Gallager show  with a laptop wearing all white linen.  I was there to be aimed at.

He was a boring, homeless, take yourself way too seriously, trying to be an artistic god, among the college kids in Athens GA…  Always on the streets playing his violin and speaking italian.  There were the new kids on their own for the first time. They’d talk to him,  then brag to their friends that they just had a conversation with a homeless guy, how he’s so smart, and how they’re so brave and kind hearted.

He bowed the strings as if he was in a class falling asleep while trying to take notes. The pen kept moving a bit, but wasn’t as sure as it could be.  The “n” was below the line, the sentence was always making a downward curve.  Basically the guy sucked and was afraid to be heard.  I would always think… if your gonna make any money in a town full of musicians you gotta forget about your childhood bro and make some noise.  I chalk most fear up to a bad child hood… especially at classical instruments, it’s usually either a means overbearing parent, or a crazy abusive eastern block teacher.

I was walking to my car, and I accidentally made eye contact with this guy as he said, “Do you want to hear a song on the violin?”  He spoke in a tone that really makes anything he says sound like, “Please don’t kick my ass, but feel free to feel sorry for me.”

I said “Not today man”

“How about opera?”  (don’t even get me started on his opera, I’d rather hear bad singing… at least you can laugh at it, he was like a passion vacuum)

“I’m good, no thanks”

then he kept on, “A poem?”

He wasn’t letting up.  Very persistent for a chicken shit.

I said ok, and he started in with his poem under my rule of “Keep it short I gotta be somewhere.”

The poem was in Italian.  I should’ve known.  I sat through about 4 verses, then interrupted by asking him to give me a brief translation.  It was my way of saying, “hey!!! I’m in a hurry, and I don’t speak Italian… it sounds like it might be a good poem if I knew the basics of what it means, and I’d love to hear it in a different format you boring man.”

He said the first line, “This detestable love

I stopped him by chiming in on what a great line that was.  I asked him who wrote the poem, I don’t remember who, and that was my ticket out of here.

On the way home I kept thinking of that line, and how he really could’ve saved me a lot of time by jumping straight to it.  It stuck with me for years, after I’d moved through relationships and counseled friends through theirs.  It was such a beautiful way of pinning down the idea of what modern expectations have done to love.  We’ve placed a certain frame around it that has made it detestable, and of course I had to add sinister.  What’s more sinister than commercially destroying love.

Part 2: Theatre Majors

Why is love detestable?  Sinister?

It really isn’t if you just listen and feel, but who’s got time for that.  Especially a theatre major, that just wants to “make it”…

First off, they all talk too loud onstage thus it’s never believable.  I’m not a fan of theatre. I like to watch the production, the way it all goes down, but never really get the moments when:

[follow along by doing please]

They walk downstage, opening their arms, palms up, tilting their head to the side, then for dramatic effect, bringing them back to their heart, tight fists, head down, then quickly eyes up… drop hands, eyes up, open palms , shoulders back…. it’s all bullshit and programmed…  I know, I’m sure there’s an exception… the problem is I’ve had to sit through many “exceptions” under the friends recommendation of ” that’s not all theatre… have you seen __________?”

So I go. I love to be proved wrong. I love to be inspired, and I love to see art evolve.  Usually about 3 minutes in, I realize I’m not wrong… it’s the same.  it’s like when someone tells me that the kid studying jazz guitar has their own style.  I’m not educated enough to pick it up and tell the difference, this stuff is the same for me as watching a bunch of seals on the beach as I’m amazed on how the babies know which one is their mother.  I feel a lot of theatre majors might just be the balding males that think their combover is the one combover that looks natural… “They’ll never notice mine, but that guys is so obvious.”

The Ultimate example for crazy theatre types is Rent…  I have a rule, and I broke it once.  I used to say, “If you know all the words to Rent…. you’re crazy”  Especially if you enjoy it.  No show tune or musical song has “soul”.  They’re many that are well written, but in that format, you have to be able to project and mechanically deliver the tune, hit the notes.  I love it when broadway meets urban. It becomes a mockery, instantly…  I’m sure west side story was  relieved that something finally overshadowed it’s attempt at dangerous snapping jazz dance gangs.

Now we have rent, urban show tunes, drugs, aids, and that song about how many minutes a year is…  Urban drug addicts with aids are just trying to not get knocked up, not get killed, not get beat up by their parents or boyfriends, and hopefully they’ll graduate high school. It’s not believable that on their free time they did the math on how many minutes in a year.  Unless their doing acid, cuz that’s the kind of stuff you do on acid.  Was their acid, or mushroom usage in Rent? I honestly have no idea what rent is about…

She was an exchange student, loved rent, theatre major, no soul, but looked like a blonde young Linda Carter… with an accent.   It was easy to look past the theatre stigma, I broke my rule. It was a GREAT first 2 weeks.

I was on tour… all the time.

She was only in town for 2 more months…

I told her that I’m on tour for the next couple months and I’ll see her when I pop in town, if I pop in town, and would love too, but she’s a college girl, exchange student, and should really go out and have fun, don’t wait around for me, cuz I’m working and out of town all the time.  That was ok on her part.  She waits for no man.  Great.  Thanks.

I show up, call her, we eat hang out, things are cool, I leave the next day for another leg of tour.

I come back, call her, we hang out … things are cool, I’m gone again for a couple weeks.

I Come back, get in town late, call her, tell her to come by the show, she’s on the list.  Show ends, I’m loading out my gear and she shows up… eye’s down, then hands fall, palms open, eyes up… big sexy eyes up… I’m thinking, wow her sexy eyes look angry…

“I HATE YOU!!!”   “I never get to see you and I’m leaving in a week”

I recapped our conversation about my tour and her having fun and all that crap…


I really was shocked, especially at how good of an actress she was, first off for acting like she understood that I’m on tour,and second for how well she projected her voice through the back alleys of Athens GA at 3 in the morning.

She’d had some time to think while waiting around for me the past couple weeks, and had prepared a monologue.  She wrote it in a journal and began.  I waited, and realized there’s no real emotion in this.  Just acting.  Then when I came to engage, she interrupted with a loud burst of poetry… first word


(woah?!? I’m not her dad… a couple years older than her, but I don’t even shave)

Then I really knew she was just rehearsing for a scholarship or something.

The monologue came to an end with a dramatic moment when she got quiet, and she looked me in the eyes, and said …” do you know what I wrote in my journal the first night when I was with you?”

I tilted my head and my eyebrows kind of did the same…

She goes on..

“I wrote”   and in a soft, quivering, shitty, soulless, theatre singing voice, designed to make gullable people care, she sang..

“five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred miiiiiinutes”

I rudely laughed… but c’mon.  If you don’t laugh at that you’re dead.

When she realized that I knew she was biting her lines, she explained that I may not care now, but I’ll change my tune.

“there are some things you don’t know about me… you might want to get checked for aids”

I said “ok, I’ll do it first thing tomorrow, I need to go, let me walk you home”

She then says that,  she can do it alone and she hopes she gets raped, so I’ll feel bad.

I didn’t want to tell her that I don’t know for sure, but I think getting raped actually feels worse to the person getting raped.  I’m no expert, but I can assume.

“You’re petrified aren’t you”  she said to me in regards to my potential AIDS.

I said, “well, I’m not that happy, but I just had a conversation with my sister in law this morning about her work in aids clinics, and she was telling me about all the new drugs and it’s no longer a death sentence.   I’m not gonna freak out until I know.”  which was literally what I’d talked to her about that morning.

She then said, “Well get tested, and if you have it, then that means I have it… we can be together.”

It was nice to hear that actually. When you know all the words to rent, your crazy, but I’m sure there’s an exception out there… but when you say that… There is no exception… you’re crazy.

I was able to sleep well that night, knowing that she was just acting.  In her defense, she was young and in “theatre love”. The love that we all fall into at least 4-30 times in our lives.  The love that’s supposed to be like the stage and screen, the love that’s afraid to define itself without expectation or pretense.  She’s happy now, and all grown up, and married.  Good luck buddy.

This is just one example among many that have lead me to a place now where I just let things happen and try to love without rules.  I mess up a lot, and look forward to messing up more.  Writing the song sinister love is a reflection of all the patterns, and little lines I’d find on a napkin, or back of a flyer written late night while in diners, or riding in a van between cities.  You get a lot of time to think on tour.  A lot of waiting, and quiet time once you’ve exhausted every song on the iPod and every cd in the big book of cd’s.  It’s a loud life, and in those moments that it’s quiet, my thoughts finally get to voice themselves.  Apparently, I used to love me some crazy girls.