Reading In the ATL

The reading was a success. It was in the parking lot in front of Criminal Records, and we were afraid it would rain, but it didn’t. Everyone was in patriotic colors. Jamie had Gusto, his guitarist, be the co-MC, and Gusto’s wife, Shannon, played Monkey Zuma. We ran out of beer in approximately 20 minutes. The show began with the national anthem, followed by cheers from two girls who showed up dressed as cheerleaders. They were very cool. Chants of “free George Bush!” followed. Spiderman came and did a Q & A about being on the frontlines in the war against terror. Gusto and Roger French, the accordion player, played This Land is My Land.

The parking lot swayed. Icecream was sold rapidly. A woman sold antenna balls that have a crossed out “W.” Red, white, and blue streamers, garlands, and flags swayed in the breeze. Jamie introduced me and I read my story while Roger accompanied me on accordion. People liked me, they really did! Gusto then sang “America, the beautiful” in his Elvis voice. Jamie and the cheerleaders did more cheers, and Jamie read his karaoke-inspired masterpiece. These people in golden clothes showed up with a banner that said “Billionaires for Bush…if you can’t join us, tough!” Jamie moderated a fistfight between a liberal from the crowd and a conservative from the Billionaires For Bush. It was hilarious. The liberal won after the conservative played dirty.

A woman named Sadie with gorgeous dreads approached me and said she loved my story and gave me her email address. A comic book artist named “Saint” came up after the show and told me he related to growing up in a Muslim household, and he gave me a copy of his comic book. It’s very cool. At that point, I’d had 4 beers and some of Jamie’s Knob Creek. So, I needed to keep going. We took down the flags and streamers and I took off my heels and we walked around Five Points, drinking and talking about writing.

Jamie is one of my favorite people and writers. He’s energetic and talented and funny and things will take off for him soon. Speaking of taking off, we went to Clermont Lounge- a strip club/dance hall. The strippers looked like normal girls. We danced and drank and left to another bar to drink some more. Atlanta is very pretty, green, wet, and lush. I loved it.

The drive back was snappy; we made it in 16 hours with a stop for seafood in Baton Rouge. I came home to a note on my door saying my rent check bounced and I was to vacate the premises or write them a money order with $115 in fees. Which I don’t have. There were messages on my machine from my phone company saying my bill was past due and my phone was getting shut off; from my car insurance company saying I have a limited period of time to renew; from my kid asking where I was. I crawled under the covers and slept for 10 hours, only to be awakened and reminded that real life won’t go away.

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