I know many struggling artists who play music for a living. I’m proud to call guitar players, singers and karaoke machine operators, stand up comics and club deejays my friends. Even more of my pals work in food service as cooks, waiters and waitresses, bouncers and bartenders.
I am concerned for my friends this night, the weirdest and worst of all possible evenings to be employed as “entertainment”.
Today is Election Day, which means tonight exactly half the country will be celebrating like it’s New Year’s Eve while the other half will fall into an immediate and sustained depression, one that very likely will lead to anger and thoughts of hatred and revenge.
The sad truth is that drummers and sous chefs have very little control over the outcome of this election, but have a 50-50 chance of feeling its wrath.
All across this great country, banquet halls and hotel ballrooms have been rented so that political candidates can celebrate their hard-fought victories with their campaign staffs and supporters. It will be a great, great party for one of two parties in each of those rooms, town to town.
For the other half, the losers, it will be a reminder that the last months, perhaps years, of their lives have existed, by and large, for nothing.
That crowd does not want to hear your band’s cover of Kool and the Gang’s “Celebrate”. They will not be dancing. There will be no joy. The balloons tucked into netting overhead at the Holiday Inn Express Conestoga Meeting Room will not be dropped for half the candidates. Those balloons, along with the streamers, table centerpieces and a million supportive signs, will be quietly packed into trash dumpsters.
At 10:30, just after the losing candidate tries his very hard to not fall completely apart while giving his concession speech, remembering to say complementary things about his opponent, a man who relentlessly slandered him and has now forced that losing candidate to return to his job at Barnett’s Bargain Tires, a lot of my friends will step onto a riser and play an hour-long set of party music in front of a quickly dwindling crowd of increasingly depressed and inconsolable volunteers.
“Celebrate good times, c’mon!”
Meanwhile, back in the kitchen, twenty-six trays of shrimp cocktail are being divided among a dozen waiters and four prep station salad girls. The chef called a halt to the lobster tails just after the early precincts sent their results in – he’s been watching CNN on his phone near the dishwasher.
The scene just described is being played out, over and over, in rooms all across the country, big and small, from steak to nachos, twenty-piece big bands to iPod DJ’s. The most incredible drama of it all is that at six in the evening, everyone involved - from the back up singer to the next Governor of the great state of Georgia - thinks they’ll be celebrating the greatest night of their lives.
And by 10:30, exactly half of them will.
For my great friends who have been hired to be entertainment for this, the weirdest evening of the year, I wish nothing but good luck.
Break a leg.
And remember to get paid in cash before the gig.