“I don’t want to write that, that proposal.” My eyes cast themselves upon the essay topic. It’s that time of the year again when I become obsessive about Coursera courses online, this one entitled “Soul Beliefs” and the topic was “Why are religions necessary?” They are certainly not in any way necessary even if the root, as it was pointed out as if it was the cement to the rambling rocks representing world truth, of the word means “to bind.” In Latin based languages. What about Mayan?
Here was the belief that one should argue the point or, in my case, not argue the point. I didn’t argue the point. I rolled my eyes towards the back of my head and got that itchy bitchy feeling like I was going to start screaming in protest. The next lesson, after the assignment, was about how religions are, perhaps, not necessary; typically the lesson that follows everyone being led down one path to turn them around and herd them back to the fork in the road. It’s the religion of undergraduate courses, I thought sourly with irritation. I can sniff these things out a zillion miles away. Even when I was ten I would stand dead still and refuse to cooperate on such matters.
I told the Voice Teacher to the Stars, who I recently met, about the Coursera course, which in general – aside the assignments – I was enjoying, after he told me about his Catholic School upbringing. We were sitting outside the Hilton Hotel watching Beyoncé’s dancers and band members get into the touring buses to go to the venue. One of the backup singers gave him the sign. They were both African American. It was the hey brother-hey sister recognition nod. He did look like someone special. “When I worked with Bobby McFerrin…” he began a story.
Nobody nodded at me. I wasn’t wearing dreadlocks and looking thin in black jeans. We chatted. “Hey you’re a sistah.” He complimented graciously after we exchanged notes on Berkeley. I get that old feeling that I had managed to pass the test and get within the parameters of a club. We got on one of the touring buses and took a look around. I spotted behind an anti-slide about yet open for accessibility attached nook a row of those mini boxes of cereal that enchanted me when I was seven. They still enchant me even though I can’t eat them anymore because of a gluten allergy. I just want to sniff the sugar and caress the cartoon animals on the box. I want to be happy like Froggo and Pando and Piggo with big smiles and sunshine, stock myself a mini store and play shopkeeper using one of those “I am not drinking a beer” sized paper bags produced for the USA market. We had our picture taken on the sofa in a group. “It’s not going on facebook,” he promised our mutual friend. We were inner circle, and keeping that way.
The bus engine started up. We jumped off in the parking lot only to meet up later for the show on the pavement in front of the will call. My first show in the Amsterdam Arena. I packed a gluten free sandwich in case there was nothing for me to eat at the concession stands. We shuffled though the VIP entrance, drank some Prosecco while waiting for the star to appear. I looked out at the masses and fingered the wrist pass I was given to go stand next to the stage. If I went there I couldn’t get back to my seat, a seat in the first row. It was like being between two religions that offered some type of privilege at a cost. I sat there thinking about ego and why I would need to be seen in a photo on facebook either in my front row seat or next to the stage, all five feet of me standing under someone’s armpit.