I’m sitting at “Il Ristorante Italiano” on the 3rd Street Promenade, a popular outdoor street mall in sunny Santa Monica. It’s early evening. I made sure to beat the rush hour traffic.
I’m feasting on an impersonal-sized pizza and drinking Chardonnay all by my lonesome. You might have heard me mention before how much I enjoy my own company. Not that I don’t have friends whose company I adore, but I am happy to say I’m still in the throes of self-discovery and there’s nothing like the way we further acquaint ourselves with ourselves as how we do it when we’re alone.
I didn’t come here for the pizza and wine though. I came to watch my hubby and his man-band busk. But I’m early. And, I'm giving them space as I have been annointed "Yoko" because admittedly, I insert my opinion on occasion.
By this particular man-band I mean a very fun-loving a capella foursome called Who’s Your Daddy. They’re not the typical quartet. Their a capella is à la Tom Petty, The Cars, Steve Miller, Steely Dan, Prince. They are all professional musicians in different forms, but a few years ago, at a little-later-than-mid-life point in all their lives they decided they wanted to do something on the side just for fun. So they started singing at bars and cantinas, parties, Farmers Markets, even performing "The Star Spangled Banner" at LA Kings games and providing the halftime entertainment for The New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden. And also....busking right here...on the 3rd Street Promenade. When you’re a singer, you sing. Period.
Another sip of Chardonnay. Another slice of impersonal pie. They are a block away situating themselves. Apparently there are a lot of rules and regulations here on the Promenade. Buskers have to start on an even hour, rather than an odd. Go figure. They have to position themselves a certain amount of distance from an adjacent busker—another amount of distance from a standing kiosk. They are not allowed to stake out a spot. Geez.
There’s a young woman singing and playing her guitar not far from Il Ristorante—close enough for me to take notice. She’s good. Really good. I think to myself, oh but to be young and playing just to play without having an ulterior motive...without wondering if someone will walk by and offer you a recording contract…just working out your stuff for whoever will listen and hopefully going home $100 richer.
I scarf down yet another impersonal pizza slice and acknowledge the delightful whether. I do believe I’ll finish that pie. Even though I’m full. It’s so effing good. What the hell.
All done. Burp. Let’s stroll.
As I head toward “The Daddys” I toss a 5 into the basket of a busker singing a cover of Sam Smith's, “I’m Not The Only One.”
I wonder if I’m paying more attention to him because I’m hoping that’s what people will do for The Daddys.
I stroll further west and find them. They are just getting started. After their first song I clap like I don’t know them. I also clap because they're good. Passesrby (that's the plural...I Googled it) are checking them out. Who are these guys—these grown-up men doing quite a unique version of “When Dove’s Cry?”
A father (I’m assuming) pushes a baby stroller and stops because his toddler is mesmerized. A hot girl plants herself right in front of my Daddy and moves her body to the virtual beat. A man dressed up in a George Washington wig and hat is incoming. Sure, there are other people not even blinking an eye…texting as they pass. But so what?
The Daddys are enjoying themselves (singers love to sing no matter what the circumstance) this can’t however, be cake for them. They’re competing with the sound of a busker 100 yards to the left and another to the right. One is crooning a Coldplay cover and the other is rendering yet another rendition of “I’m Not The Only One.” At least The Daddys are not singing “I’m Not The Only One.” (Ironically, no one is the only one singing that song.)
Plus, there's more on the line when you’re older because in the back of your mind a little voice is telling you if you fail there’s less time to recover. But that’s still no excuse. It’s good to participate in activities outside of our comfort zone. When we stop trying new things, we get jaded.
Half of me is relieved it isn’t me who’s out there in the middle of the road. The other half is jealous it’s not.
The Daddys launch into (Keep on) “Rockin’ Me” (Baby). Nobody ever does (Keep on) “Rockin’ Me” (Baby). George Washington likes it. George Washington claps and walks over when the song is done. He makes a request. Strange world. (Not the request—the George Washington getup).
Hot girl gets closer. Watch it. That Daddy is mine!
My 3 hour meter is going to expire. I have to go.
One of the last songs I hear before turning off the Promenade is a cover of Ed Sheeran’s “Tupelo Honey,” I mean, “Thinking Out Loud.” (Well—a morph.) But the very very last song is…you guessed it— “I’m Not The Only One.” Good song.
I’ve been strolling this Promenade checking out performers since I moved to Los Angeles twenty-something years ago. I always did the walk-on-by if they weren’t remarkable. But I don’t think I’ll ever do that again without throwing a few bucks in a hat. No matter what.
I can’t believe I ate that whole pizza.
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