January, Two. by D.M. Jerman

Double Door makes me feel like I'm back in the 90s. And this time I can live them like the adult I now am. It's great. Cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Big stage lighting spilling all over a tall dais and a sound almost as big. I keep my earplugs in even when bands aren't on. This is my Chicago life. I'm here to see a guitarist friend and his band and maybe eventually play this venue one day. The linoleum is way old and the waitress is half my age. I am comfortable wearing new pants and watching groupie types check out the lead singer of the second act, who needs either better shampoo or a new haircut altogether.

Next up is frat rock by a threesome that can actually sing. They really throw themselves at it, which I like and respect. About halfway through the set the bassist brings his girlfriend of 3.5 years up on stage and proposes to her. Don't see that every day.

My friend shows up, hugs me, compliments my earrings [feathers]. We chat about a future gig with my band for a CD release party before he goes for another beer. Meeting new people now, in the 2016, fresh as a daisy. I guess I felt like this last year too, in the beginning. A vacant optimism that had only itself to stand on.

A lull in the set and a girl screams. There are more people here now from when I walked in. Next up is some glam-metal 5-piece. Loud as hell with no long hair in sight. They cock up the mic with chat about breaking strings. I suddenly remember an acquaintances band, Black Actress, here. God that must have been an age ago. Who played along with them? And why does everyone check the mic with their speaking voices instead of singing?

Most of the time people don't clap because they can't be bothered or it's uncool or they have a drink in their hand, or all of the above. I see my friend in the crowd. A dude among dudes who will feature in the parade of sausage on stage tonight. I'm alone for the night and it's nice to not have to talk so much. I imagine some people are here really going for it. Looking for someone. It seems like an extremely remote activity to me now. To be a decade younger than my current self at this point in time, and looking for a partner. The only truth is in the guess.

The guitarist is plugged in remotely. He darts upstairs and all around the venue surprising people. They follow their loudest tune yet with a smoky power ballad. The singer is trying out his androgyny. As long as he stays on key, it'll work. So far it's working about half the time.

Music stops. Beer rush at the bar. They're out of what I want. This is rad, I've pretty much blown most of what came out of the ATM this afternoon. Line to the bathroom. I can almost hear the toilet thinking before it flushes. I camp a couch at the back of the venue. A couple leave and my view gets unblocked. People crawl into the photobooth and bright lights pop.

My friend's band gets going. Sounding super tight three songs in. A drunken monkey of a man plops down right next to me. Orders two of the same I'm drinking and pays with a card. A lefty when he signs the check. If he's trying to sober up like he should he's going about it the wrong way. He starts standing up fucking with his coat a lot. Almost hits me. Shaking himself down for his roofie stash, probs. He disappears, thankfully. Maybe he's nice IRL. But tonight he's the kind that smells like you wouldn't trust to leave your drink around. Or anything else for that matter.

My boys the headliners. I stand on the dance floor while they finish up. I really like the 2nd to last song. It goes like anything. Then the disco ball and some old pop hit on cue from the sound man takes over. Monkeyboy shows up sidelongingly with a look, so I salute my pals and pound the rest of my horrible beer and head out. Third Eye Blind singer is crooning "Good-byeeeee!" as I exit.

Wow. It really is the 90s... and after midnight.

A very long Saturday indeed.