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What She's Got That I Ain't Got

Carlyn Lynch
Over the rim of my wine glass, I’m watching her sporadically fall and catch herself like the Scarecrow when first freed from his perch in The Wizard of Oz. Her eyes are closed, knees buckled and her facial muscles strain to push sound from her pipes to the air. The result is a sexy, shrill crooning that fills the room. Instead of an awkward stance, the audience sees a statuesque, edgy pose. The stage lights make her hair shinier, her plain dress is now stylish and the run in her pantyhose an illicit tease. My friend is confused…”Is she cute?” she asks me, “I can’t tell if she’s cute.” She’s the exception to society’s conventions on good looks…She’s a rocker chick…whether or not she’s “cute” is irrelevant.

“She’s got pipes, but no panache,” I say to my friend. Then, I spew some bullshit about Shakespeare’s fourth wall and how she’s failing to break through it. Even though she’s talented, she’s failing to connect with or involve the audience. Her stage presence isn’t engaging. Her movements lack soul and rhythm. After three or four sentences chock-full of criticism and emphatic gesturing to get my highly philosophical, cocktail-induced points across, the pervasive truth bubbling up behind my nauseating critiques surfaces…”I’m so jealous,” I admit with a sad little smile.

And I’m not the only one…a few steps to my left I spot two classically beautiful girls in skintight, perfectly-coordinated get-ups singing along with every word and swinging their hips. I know they feel it too and I walk up to them to test my theory. “So,” I ask, “Do you love her and hate her?” They pause for a second and then dissolve into tension-breaking laughter. “Oh totally,” one says as the other nods in agreement. Thought so…

Like me, these girls obviously love music. They’ve got style and rhythm and a background in performing arts. Like me, when they watch the rocker chick sing they’re not just watching a performance, they’re watching someone do something they love to do and wish they were doing today. The rocker chick has pursued a shared dream that we’ve pushed aside. So, when we watch her we’re impressed by her talent and even proud of her for leading an all-male ensemble while dazzling a local group of male groupies…But that doesn’t mean we don’t have to suppress the urge to pull a Tonya Harding on her…Kidding.

I walk back to my barstool, shake my head in shame and sigh at the immaturity of my envy. Some people get jealous of lovers, some of other peoples’ careers or good looks. For me, it’s the act of watching other people excel at one of my abandoned passions that spurs wistfulness and misplaced self-criticism. The truth is, they’re doing what they’ve chosen to do, I’m doing what I’ve chosen to do and choosing to compare myself to them or pick them apart rather than appreciate their unique gifts only insults the soul. Like unwelcome contact from an otherworldly spirit, I’ve recognized and accepted this character flaw and am working on releasing it.

So, when one of rocker chick’s non-threatening, grass-stained-Reebok-tapping groupies catches my eye long enough to pose the rhetorical question, “Isn’t she great?” His tortured smile and hopeful stare soften me. “Do you love her?” I ask. “Who doesn’t?” he responds unflinchingly. I smile back at him as rocker chick slowly runs out of steam on the final note of the song and answer, “Can’t imagine.” My well-intentioned claps join the rest of the audience in reverberating applause, “WOOOOO!! WOO! WOO!”