THE CHEAP POET

It was the height of my grad school semester. Notes, schedules, and exams were all about. When the poet called to inform me that he had, “an awesome gig” for me, I listened. He said that it was a performance with him in Miami. I had no problem with that. When he told me that the pay was, $75.00, and he knew what I charged, the red flag was thrown on the field. Its one thing for me to miss a graduate level class for an actual performance that pays money; however, its entirely another thing for me to miss class for a complete waste of my time. He was soon listening to me decline such a generous offer. He put a great amount of effort into convincing me that this was something that I should do. His persistence made me realize that he had promised these people a harpist prior to talking to me and now, he was in a nice salty pickle. I added the hot dog; with mustard.
Quite some time passed before I heard from him again. It was a surprise to me that he even thought to contact me for round two. He had a talent showcase happening at a local Truth Center and inquired about my prices. He gave the illusion of starting out on the right foot. However, given his past actions, I knew better and told him that the price list would be mailed to him. A second phone conversation informed me that the Truth Center would be able to afford me but would love to have me perform because of my outstanding talent. There would be others performing as well, and my services were simply out of their budget. My voice wanted to say that the pastor would not be giving away his services, why should I be placed in this position? What I heard my voice say, which was a shock to me, “This does not sound like an event where I should perform.”
What people fail to realize is that when I perform, it is not just time out of my day in a formal gown behind an expensive instrument. More often than not, I have nightmares about something happening to me prior to performing. I worry about setting up my schedule properly so that I can have an effective performance and please the client. Bad weather can throw off my driving time or re-route me entirely. The emotional tax is a part of each performance. My body also remembers the performance in that my arms often get tight and require a massage.
No, there is no way that I can perform for free. My car requires gas. It has an insurance bill, and the bank still expects payment for the check that it gave to Honda on my behalf. My music lessons were not gratis. My dresses are not gifts. The instrument costs more than my car which does not include the strings or music. I can not be paid for the emotional involvement.
Poor poet. He is not the first and unfortunately for me, he is not the last. He called the next day while I was shopping with a friend in Aventura Mall. Because time with my sisters is not allowed to be interrupted by anyone, his call was promptly sent to voice mail. He was now inviting me to attend that very same showcase. It is my assumption that if I attended, I would fall in love with the event and offer to perform out of the kindness of my heart. Needless to say, the poet never heard from me again and vice versa.

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