Date night. Funny night. Show night. My husband and I are keeping it light and keeping ourselves current by going to see stand-up comedy. Laughter! Filth! Impressions!
I’m feeling saucy, wearing the black halter I haven’t worn since forever and sparkly eyeliner, too. We’re out amongst adults and cigarette smoke, moving with the buzz of a city on a Saturday night. I don’t even curse at all the Hummers parked in the lot.
We race into the club because we’re running late and the headliner is a guy we love. I scooch into the booth beside my man, my jeans briefly sticking to the vinyl, and that’s when it smacks me in the face: the audience.
Immediately their attentiveness whips at me, their eagerness for something fun, their clinging to joy, their laying down of sorrows and hardships because they need this break so desperately. As my husband bursts into hysterics because of some bit about cell phones, I burst into tears. I watch these strangers before me cracking up, mouths open wide, teeth out, their faces stretched and grotesque. Long Island Iced Teas decorate the tables. An obvious and awkward first date is seated in the front row. A chubby guy giggles along as the comic makes fun of his clothes. An old woman cleans her glasses with the same napkin she uses to wipe fried shrimp from her fingers. There is a man with a mustache to my left trying to get the other man with a mustache to laugh with him. (He does not.)
I thought nothing could be more lastima-proof than comedy. I thought I’d come here to laugh, not to sob. I thought the dim lights would protect me, or the jokes, or the alcohol, but it turns out lastima is what makes humor work. The comedian ends on a tirade about blow jobs, and I watch in horror as a woman winks to her lover, blushing and proud of her liberated self, raising her Cosmopolitan high. I pray for her to perform like a champion tonight.
We make it to the end of the show, and my husband wipes the sparkly eyeliner streams from my face. It tickles. It feels good. And I laugh.
p.s. Open mic night…now that is a petri dish for breeding lastima.
p.p.s. I used to do open mics. I may have been beyond lastima because I was not so good.