On a whim the other day, I bought a ukulele, learned a few cords, wrote a song with them, and performed that song for total strangers all in under 24 hours.
My goal last night after shooting the above video was to play my song “To The Stars” for at least five people and get used to the idea of performing live. Instead, I ended up playing for entire crowds.
I sang for a homeless man. I sang for couples holding hands. I sang while dancing down the street. A shop owner clutched his chest and gasped, “Oh, no. No, no. You’re melting my heart.” (And then he gave me a huge discount). I sang for Lyft drivers who told me they wanted to shoot a music video of me. My favorite reaction was when a handsome man dropped to his knees and told me, “Baby, I am in love with you. Tell me your name!”
But after a drink or two at a few different bars, I was feeling a little suffocated. I went outside to park against a wall and catch my breath. The cold air felt good.
But I wasn’t alone.
“Is that a ukulele?” Someone asked. When I looked up, this tall boy in a nice blazer was standing a few feet away, lighting up a cigarette.
“Yes,” I replied. “Can I play for you?”
He smiled. “You wanna play for me?” Disbelief.
“Yeah. If you’ll let me.” A hopeful smile. Shyly.
“Please.” He said, warming to me and drifting closer.
“Okay, but the number one rule before I start is: You can’t make fun of me.” He grinned at me and started laughing. “No,” I insisted very seriously. “You have to promise.” I shoved my pinky towards him. Humoring me, he hooked his pinky in mine, and we shook on it. Then, he grew quiet and gestured for me to begin.
I was nervous.
I took a deep breath.
And while I played, I watched the smile on his face grow.
It made me play better.
I wanted to earn that smile.
Soon, he whispered, “Oh my god,” and dropped against the wall beside me, crashing to the seat of his nice slacks and closing his eyes to listen.
/ But darling,
I know you’ve been hurt
But I swear that I’m not like those oo-oo-ther
Laughing, he threw is head back against the wall and blew his cigarette smoke into the sky, tapping his foot to the music.
And when I had finally finished, I clutched my ukulele close and smiled nervously. He turned to me, put his hand on my arm and said, “Baby, I know you’re gonna think this is a line, but I have to tell you, you are the sweetest, most bangin’ woman with the most pretty little voice I have ever heard in my life.” I laughed self-consciously at that, bowing my head, whispering thank you. “That is the most amazing song I have ever heard. Please,” he continued, “tell me why you’re out here playing all alone.”
I sucked in a breath and said, “I actually wrote it last night for this boy I really love.. But he dumped me today. So I’m trying to … Y’know. Play this for people and make them smile, cuz it just makes me sad.”
And then I cried a little.
Just a little.
Because it hurt like f*ck to say out loud.
And I strummed the melody to my song while I cried.
I just needed to keep my hands busy.
“You are way too pretty and vulnerable to be playing that song out here all alone,” he said, pain in his eyes. “That guy is a f*cking moron. Please let me be NEXT!”
I smiled at him through watery eyes, dabbing at them with the edges of my fingers. “He was actually really sweet most of the time. We just weren’t a good match. That’s all.” I took in a deep, shaky breath, and smiled, not wanting to talk about it anymore. “Is my makeup all f*cked up now?” I asked.
“No! You are beautiful. Perfect. I can’t believe you’re talking to me.”
That made me laugh. Because he was so cute too, y’know? I was thinking the same thing. But I didn’t say that out loud. That wouldn’t have been cool.
“Is this for real right now?” A group of night-goers were walking slowly past, pointing at me and my instrument.
“Are you going to play for us?!” One of the girls in the group screamed.
I laughed and offered quietly, “Okay. If you’d like me to.”
“Please play for us!” People were gathering around. My first “big” audience.
The tall boy next to me was suddenly my on-the-spot agent, saying things like, “This is the dopest song you will ever hear in your life. You are about to have your minds blown.” And, “You’re about to fall in love with this girl. This girl’s going to Hollywood.”
I shook my head through the compliments, politely shushing him, asking my audience (ha! My audience!) if they were ready.
“Yeah!” They cried simultaneously.
“Okay,” I said. “But the number one rule before I start is … You can’t make fun of me.”
And so it went all night.