To be…or not to be…crude

December is going to be a crazy month for me. Tomorrow I go in to do a radio interview about my writing and some other stuff, like an event I’m “headlining” later this month (more on that in a sec.) Next week my writers’ guild is hosting their annual holiday party in person for the first time since 2019. As the president, I’m more or less in charge of everything so I feel a huge responsibility to make it fun and organized. Then on the 28th a friend asked me to be the featured guest at his open mic event at a popular local bar (the thing I’m discussing at tomorrow’s interview.) I’m very excited about having a whole 30 minutes to share my writings with my friends and co-writers and whatever poor saps just randomly wander in for a drink that night. I’m already preparing my “set list,” and at a different event this past Saturday I decided to try out some material.

It didn’t go as well as I’d hoped.

I was asked to perform at my friend’s event because it’ll be right around Christmas time and he knows that I like to write humorous Christmas poetry (RHYMING humorous Christmas poetry, at that – I know! It couldn’t possibly get any more niche, right?) But what my friend didn’t know (until Saturday, that is) is that all the poetry I’ve shared with him so far has been the watered down Kidz Bop version. In my secret heart of hearts, my deepest darkest most password-protected Google Docs, I write VULGAR rhyming humorous Christmas poetry (Haha – fooled you! It can always get more niche.)

Well, I’m still not exactly sure what came over me this past Saturday. It was an open-mic event out on a patio next to a busy sidewalk. There were only about a dozen people in the audience, most of whom I know through the writers’ guild, and I guess I just wanted to push the boundaries a liiiiiitle tiny bit.

I made mention of marijuana. I said “ass.” I said “screw” and not in the Home Depot sense.

And some folks in the audience did not particularly care for it. Which is fine. I don’t have a problem with them having a problem with my poetry. But I, of course, am now obsessing about it. Because I made a social faux pas and now I must be punished for it. Nightly for the first 3-7 days, then once a week or so for the next 12 years. If I’m lucky I’ll develop dementia at some point and finally be free.

So here’s a silly little secret – when I was writing all these poems down last week and coming up with my “set list” and thinking about all the people I’ve invited to come, I was super excited to share with them all my vulgarrhyminghumorouschristmaspoetry. I pictured myself as this totally confident poetic comic on stage, spilling all these words over my audience, who were undoubtedly choking on their cocktails with each verse, every quatrain a punch line that would send fresh tears streaming down their cheeks. Instead of cringing every time I let an F-bomb burst overhead or referred to Mrs. Claus’s c-u-next-tuesday, they’d howl with laughter, which is basically what I do as I’m writing these poems.

But after my audience’s tepid reaction last Saturday, I really don’t know what I should do. If I look at all my friends’ faces and they’re just cringing and quietly sipping their drinks without making eye contact with me, I think I might cry. And while I’ve cried in front of most of them at some point, it’s been the acceptable ratio of one-on-one. One-on-fifty is bound to be too much.

So how much of my true, vulgar, pirate-mouthed self should I be? I’m thinking I’ll put together two set lists – one a PG, chaste version like what I’ll be sharing on my interview (available on December 17th on WUTC’s Scenic Roots with Richard Winham), and one a more me version. I’ll start by being Me, and if I get a vibe that I need to change, then that’s what I’ll do. Because that’s what I always do.

2 thoughts on “To be…or not to be…crude

  1. I love that deep in your heart lives a foul-mouthed Pirate! He can be mates with the foul-mouthed stripper who lives in MY heart. Lol. I hope all your shows are successful and I like your plan to have TWO set lists…test out your audience with one F bomb and you’ll be able to quickly figure which list will work best. Please email me the naughty one! Hahaha 😆

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