It began, as most things do, with the desire to please a woman. With bird seed still practically in our hair, I had hoped to make our first Valentine's Day as husband and wife memorable.
So Kool Keith it was. I knew from the start this wasn't, really, a good idea, but somewhere in the back of my head I had decided that seeing a live performance by the self-proclaimed founder of "horrorcore" and "pornocore" rap was a perfectly romantic date, and would become, one day, a story we'd tell our grandkids.
And then Wednesday happened. The made-up holiday was a day away, and my wife grew squeamish about attending the show. She, god bless her, humored me, but the foolishness of my plan had already cold-cocked me. I needed a back-up.
So the ballet it was. Our visit to The Nutcracker in December had been a smashing success. Why not reprise it with "Romeo & Juliet," the most cliche love story of ever? The ballet was only showing through Sunday, so Valentine's Day was the perfect night. She loved the idea, but I knew at once my hopes of bringing her to Ace of Cups for Dr. Dooom were slipping away.
I am by no means an expert in the art of dance, but I have been to two ballets in about two months, so for a dude I think that qualifies me as close enough to one. And one thing I've learned about ballets is it helps to know the story — the high points, the low points, the emotional arc of the main characters. It helps to follow along when you have no idea what that pirouette was supposed to mean, if anything.
What also helps are sword fights and penis jokes involving swords, which, thankfully, "Romeo & Juliet" had. But it was a scene in which the young couple spends their one night alone together as husband and wife that resonated most with me. The intimacy, the grace, the coy playfulness that leads to bursts of energy and emotion — young love captured beautifully in a way that words could never.
That moment lingered with me as we stepped outside the Ohio Theatre, my wife's hand resting in the crook of my elbow as we walked, our footsteps in sync, to the car, and then, later, as I walked from my house to Ace of Cups, my wife remaining behind, most likely in bed or watching "Law & Order" re-runs on the couch.
My mind was wiped of all thought (romantic or otherwise) a few blocks later when I took my first steps inside Ace of Cups and saw a little person writhing around on stage with black electrical tape in the form of an 'X' covering her nipples. "Don't worry," Columbus rapper Copywrite told the crowd, "they [Ace of Cups] said it was OK as long no nipples show."
From there, a quick set by Columbus rapper Path followed, and then the minutes stacked up. Shortly before midnight (or thereabouts), Kool Keith jaunted onstage, a shiny headwrap of sorts covering a backwards ballcap, his eyes hidden behind aviators, his square, iconic jaw jutting out. His hype man, Cito, accompanied him. The “hits” came and went, the crowd bobbing their heads and jumping, raising hands and repeating “hell yea” as directed.
In all, it was a pretty standard rap show, nothing terribly wild or outrageous, as one might expect. When the show, eventually, devolved into conversations between Kool Keith and the audience about cuckolding, magnum condoms, masturbation and, well, I'm sure there was more, I left. It was about 1:30, and I was exhausted and slightly bored by it all. Kool Keith was every bit the entertainer I had hoped, but after a while penis jokes, whether from a ballet or a rapper, aren’t as funny and what you desire is something else entirely. I walked back to my house in a daze, slightly boozed, but mostly just hungry. After a brief snack, I walked upstairs, pulled down the sheets on my side of the bed and curled up against the back of my wife. I kissed her goodnight, and closed my eyes.
Somewhere that very moment, I imagined, Kool Keith was in a room with the nerdy white girl in the front row who kept caressing his leg during the show. They were not sleeping. They were, I imagined, performing their little dance and making their own memories. I was happy to be exactly where I was at that moment, not creating stories for my grandchildren, but simply sleeping.