I have never been caught mid lip-synch while performing to a sold out crowd at a Coors Light-sponsored area, but I sort of have an inkling as to how Milli Vanilli probably felt when their tape looped â€œGirl you know itâ€™sâ€ 22 times.
In fact, Iâ€™d imagine itâ€™s a lot like the experience my co-columnist, Nic Turiciano and I, Kate Bennis, had while attempting to busk on campus yesterday: The self-realization that we had no idea what we were doing.
To â€œbuskâ€ is to attempt to make money while performing for the public.
There are lots of ways to do this. One can morph small red balloons into whimsical wiener dogs for drooling toddlers in hopes of an extra Washington. Others dress up like mimes, terrifying and delighting passers-by in the process with their invisible cannons and whipped-cream pies.
Probably the most common means of busking is music-making.
And for some, this can really work out. What do Dolly Parton, B.B. King and Beck have in common? They all started out as street performers. What started off as a handful of change in a pork-pie hat led to Dollywood, a custom-made guitar named Lucille and 1990s hits that turned the worlds angsty, flanneled teens upside down.
Unfortunately for us, estuvimos unos perdedores: â€œWe were losers.â€
We walked onto the plaza, I with my ukulele and Nic with his keyboard; dignity left off-campus. As we approached an area where a few women sat, they immediately gave us advice before we began.
â€œIf youâ€™re going to play for money, you know what you have to do, right?â€ one asked.
No, we really had no idea.
â€œTake the hat, and put a few of your own dollars in it â€“â€“ that way, people will want to give you more money.â€
This was something we hadnâ€™t thought of. It was brilliant, really.
I wondered if theyâ€™d been street performers in the past, and if so, could they maybe lead the crowd in a rendition of the â€œElectric Slideâ€ or the â€œStanky Leg?â€ Choosing not to ask, I immediately took my hat off and placed a few single dollar bills in it.
Nic was a firm believer in improvisation, so it seemed. He had refused to practice with me before we played. He had convinced me that we would be an experimental duo. He started up a loop on his Casio keyboard and looked to me to begin playing my ukulele. I started strumming a G chord.
â€œYou guys sound terrible,â€ Nick Lyon, our photographer yelled at us.
He and columnist Johnny Hart had refused to even stand next to us, let alone clap along. They were watching from twenty or so feet, pointing and laughing at our lack of musical chemistry. The only reason Hart had joined us in our never-evering was to demonstrate that he could play the keyboard better than Nic with his feet.
A few people smiled as they passed. We inspired several shots for one studentâ€™s photography project. Some shook their heads in disgust and walked around our set up, which was conveniently located in the path of everyone who needed to get to Clark C.
At one point, an older gentleman was holding his hands over his ears and made it a point to release them only as we finished our first and only â€œhit.â€
Nic and I were not going to be Captain and Tennille, after all.
In the end, we had received a handful of pity change from Collegian Editor-In-Chief Madeline Novey, and the entire circumference of both Clark buildings was now free of all students.
There is something to be learned from this, and Iâ€™m not sure exactly what that is. I suppose that if youâ€™ve got it, flaunt it â€“â€“ you play that little saxophone, twist those balloons into rude objects and throw those invisible pies to your heartâ€™s content. Someone out there is having a terrible day and to top it off, there were some really horrible buskers on the plaza.
Columnists Kate Bennis and Nic Turiciano can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.