Thinking lately about the viability of my career in arts / writing / performance. Like, what exactly is marketable about what I want to do? Is it fair to ask people to pay me money to hear, essentially, stories? Is that really fair?
Then last night when I was walking home, someone asked me to pay them money to hear a story. And the story was: "Don't fucking move. Gimme all your fucking money". It was a solo performance art piece by this Dude With A Knife. I opened my wallet and gave him all my cash, which could not have been more than $15. I never carry cash, which means I'm usually woefully unprepared for this kind of thing, and I often have to run to the ATM. But Warhol wrote that rich people never carry cash, and this seems like such an easy, effortless way to appear rich (which in French the word for 'rich' is chic). SO I gave him my cash and then he asked for my phone. We switched positions (he wasn't standing his ground very well).
"You don't need my phone man."
"Gimme your fucking phone."
"Y'know, they don't even make this phone anymore. It doesn't even get internet. You won't even get anything for this phone."
"So you don't call the police." I almost said "Why would I call the police? All you got was $15." but then thought better of it.
"Well, can I at least keep the SIM card?"
"What do you need all my numbers for?"
"I'll take out the card."
I sniffed. "You don't know where it is, let me do it."
I disassembled my phone and took the card and handed it to him. He grabbed my shoulder bag and asked what was in it. That part scared me, because I had just bought a sandwich and was really hungry. And also had bought pot and was really feeling like I wanted to smoke some of it. So he kept grabbing my bag and asking what was in it, and just out of reflex I kept pulling it away from him since he really doesn't have any business with my shit. "Dude," I said, "My fucking hat's in my bag, ok?" and he took off.
He didn't hurt me, or even touch me. Once we got closer I could see that I was a little bit taller than him, and he was sweating. I could tell that he wasn't, really, interested in hurting me. And he also wasn't really interesting in getting a lot of money (or else he could have counted the wad of cash I handed him). I was so disappointed. I should have just run the other way when I saw him coming, or just walked away when I had the chance. But you never know. In a sort of morbid way, I had been sort of waiting for this to happen to me in NYC. I had never been mugged or anything before. Well, once someone asked me for $13 to get a bus ticket and when I refused told me he had a gun. I guess that counts. So now: I got held up, really though. With a rusty knife (which didn't look like he was really gonna use for stabbing me) and everything. I still have to look at the bright side: I got to go home and eat a sandwich, smoke a joint, and lay on my big comfy bed. I didn't have to spend my Wednesday night trolling around in the dark for lonely-looking scared white boys. I guess I do that for free? At least, not on Wednesdays.
This story was definitely not worth the $15 and the phone it cost me. Very Bad Theater. I was more annoyed than anything else. But to be perfectly honest, I got a splinter in my left foot this morning when I got out of the shower, and I was much more annoyed about that. So this was dumb theater and I think I could do better and hopefully won't have to use a knife to get people to listen to me.