My Exploding Cat

Just stories and drawings really, no actual fissile felines.

Phoenix: Chapter 13

Dakota turned out to be a pretty insistent Anoki. I found myself at every talent show, open mic night, and Minute to Win It competition in the city. Usually, I was talking about the weird stuff Mark and I did while we were travelling, about his legendary pair of socks, about the Cheeto and banana sandwiches, about my art craze when I was seven that ended in my painting my room with watercolors, and about blowing stuff up in various back yards.

It started out annoying, going out every night and running everywhere. I’d put together what I was going to say on a piece of paper when I’d woken up, and then we’d started out.

I was talking most of the time, but in a few of the talent shows, Dakota insisted that I sing.

“But I don’t know if I’m any good or not,” I pressed after the first one, while walking back to the car (which, really, neither of us needed, but oh well).

“Yup,” Dakota said, walking on without turning her head towards me.

“You mean I am good?”

“I was confirming the fact that you couldn’t know,” Dakota said.

“So?” I asked.

“So you just can’t know,” Dakota said. “Everyone’s opinion is subjective. You’re hearing your own voice from the inside, so you can’t know if you like it or not. Recording instruments can change the sound, so you can’t trust them all the time, either. And the audience doesn’t necessarily like the same things you do. But here’s what matters: They weren’t throwing rotten vegetables or milk products at you. So you can’t be that bad, can you?”

“Gee, thanks.”

“That’s why I wanted you to sing tonight,” Dakota said, unlocking the car. “Most of the things you’ll do are an art form. You can judge how good of a debater you are by how many people seem to start to agree with you. You can judge you good of a mathematician you are by how many problems you get right. You can judge how good of a basketball shooter you are by how many baskets you get. It’s easier to do something that can be measured quantitatively. But art is about quality. You can’t count movement in a painting, and you can’t count amazement at a magician, and you especially can’t count how good of an acrobat you are. There are too many other things going on.”

Dakota slid herself into the driver’s seat of the nasty old red Impala. I followed suit, into the passenger seat.

“Well, kiddo,” she said. “I think it’s safe to say you learned something here, no?”

I didn’t bother to respond.

This entry was posted on Thursday, October 20th, 2011 at 2:02 am and is filed under Phoenix. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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