Saturday night a friend of mine, TFO, was competing in a poetry contest. The Houston VIP Slam Off.
Now, I’m going to go ahead and let you in on a little secret … before the event I had guessed that my buddy Rainbow Speak and I would be the only white people there. I was almost right. Another friend and co-worker of ours came with a friend of his (and friend of ours), so that made four white people. I’ll call them The Story Teller, and Sugar.
A week before, when I was returning from SxSW, my friends and I stopped off at a big outlet mall in San Marcos. There, at the urging and encouraging laughter of E$ and Airplanes, Rainbow Speak and I each bought a pair of pink pants. We figured these would come in handy any time we wanted to look like idiots.
Saturday night, for the Houston VIP Slam Off, we decided to look like idiots. Airplanes (who is Mexican-American) sported a pretty dress, Rainbow Speak and I went full blown pastel. Because hey everyone, did you notice we’re white?
We got to the event and I was regretting our fashion choice. I ended up being disappointed at the complete lack of people making fun of us. Our friend, TFO, was introducing us to other competitors and friends of his and … no one said, “hey uh … what’s with the pants?” Not a one! Instead, TFO’s friends probably just had the thought ‘silly white people’ further drilled in. Whoops. At least I left my tennis racket in my trunk. (Yes, I have a tennis racket in my trunk.)
One of TFO’s friends was Bean. Bean was telling us some stories about past events and mentioned getting upset at judges. Wait, upset at judges? I asked about the scores, assuming that a round would finish and then all competitors would get their scores together. “No, I don’t know anyone who would do this if it was like that,” Bean said. Instead, after each performer, the judges grade them. And, what’s more, the performers know what score each judge gives. Bean told a story about being at a competition as a coach, and throwing his notebook at one judge who kept giving low scores.
This is worth noting.
Fast forward a little bit and we’re sitting inside. It was at a cool little coffee and food shop, and it was packed. Forty to fifty people inside. They had set up some benches and pushed the tables off to the sides, against the windows, and only the front row was left.
The Story Teller squeezed in at the end of the second row. Sugar, myself, Airplanes, Rainbow Speak, and another dude from work sat on the front row.
A girl, who turns out to be the MC, comes up to me. I’m not sure what all was said during this conversation, so here’s my attempt at repeating it.
“Want to be a judge?!”
“What? No I wouldn’t know what to do.”
“That’s fine! You know poetry?”
“Well, I mean I’ve read poetry … I wouldn’t say I know it.”
“Perfect! So you’ll be a judge?”
“Ha! No I … I wouldn’t even know what to score on!”
This story would be much shorter if I had managed to say no. But she got a yes out of me. Things to note from the conversation, her line, “you’re going to say yes eventually.” Which proved to be true. And:
“Wait wait … I was talking to a dude outside before this and he said they could SEE what scores they get! So then I’d just want to give everyone a TEN!”
“No, only I will see your score.”
She also said, “you’re young and you seem like you’d be ok with it so I’m going to be making fun of you.” Which made her cool in my book.
“Ok fine … but I have a friend here and I’ll want to give him higher scores so he’ll win.”
“You’re saying you’re a biased person?”
Which was a brilliant response. After that I laughed, said yes of course I’m biased, and agreed to be a judge. This picture was taken after the show, which depicts the MC and I’s relationship I think.