Unlike the rest of Oxfordshire, I wasn't at Truck Festival this past weekend, but this piece apparently appeared in the festival newspaper (yes, really) on Sunday, so, yeah. I find everything stressful. Including things that are relaxing and enjoyable to other people. Like listening to live music, for instance.
It’s fine if I can sit down. But at a festival, say, when a band is up on stage and a large army audience is thrashing around me like a school of unruly fish, I become consumed by this thought: I don’t know what to do with my hands.
I also don’t know what to do with my feet. Or my head. Or my fingers or my toes or my hair, for that matter. So while the band plays, I just stand there and clutch my heavy handbag (I obviously have to bring two books minimum to a gig, don’t you?) and feel self-conscious.
Do you know what it’s like to be self-conscious? It feels like everyone can see inside you. They can see your blood pumping in your veins, and they disapprove of it.
So I go to gigs, and everyone watches me, even the band, and I don’t move. At all. Because I can't move. Because I don't know what to do with my hands and I'm not drunk enough not to care what I look like. In fact I'm not even holding a drink, because if I try to hold a drink I end up spilling it when some carefree girl* bumps into me.
It never used to matter. In my early gig-going days I was too busy trying to avoid getting elbowed in the face by wannabe punk-rock boys with blue hair, red zits and Dickies shorts to have much time to worry about what I looked like (if I was concerned about what I looked like, I wouldn’t have dyed my hair maroon).
But later, when I'd outgrown the maroon hair, I realized this: I never know what to do with myself. I don't know what to do with myself at parties or in the pub or when I meet someone I know in the street. I certainly don't know what to do with myself when I have the option to move all of my limbs, unfettered by the need to maintain dignity (because, let's face it, there is not a single dignified thing about a festival).
So I stand there. Eventually maybe I tap my foot. I like the foot tap: it implies I have a sense of rhythm, that I’m really appreciating the music. But my hands are resolutely limp and until someone tells me WHAT THE HELL TO DO WITH THEM they will remain so.
Now stop staring at me and go listen to some music.
*Oh, you know exactly the sort of girl I mean. She flaps her arms haphazardly and manages to look like Martha Graham; she’s been drinking heavily since last night but her heavy mascara hasn’t run yet and she’s just so cool, she doesn’t give a shit what she looks like and she looks great.