Singing along to Elton John

Since the election, I’ve become quite cynical. That’s what comes of being so drastically disappointed. The worst part of it is how I’ve come to see my fellow Australians. I meet people, and I wonder. There’s a fair bit of the side-eye going on, wondering if this person or that was one of the cunts who voted for the cunts. I can’t get over the fact that so many people did. I’m sure I’d be shocked to discover some of those who did, and it’s probably better than I don’t – but it leaves me free to speculate.

Last night I went out for dinner and drinks with JV. His wife’s away and he wanted to make a night of it. We had a beer at a bar before heading to an Italian restaurant for some wood-fired pizza. We were in a quandary after that: where to next? There was a possibility we’d adjourn back to his home or mine for a bottle of wine while watching the footy, but it was too early for that. We ended up going to another bar a few metres away, where the pianist who’d performed at his wedding had a show. Turned out to be a great decision.

It was the most fun I’ve had for a long time. It was an intimate upstairs bar full to the gills. Most of the crowd there were women, maybe 60%, and the rest mainly middle-aged couples. We were probably the demographic outliers amongst that lot, but it didn’t stop us from enjoying the show. We found ourselves a handy spot to listen and watch-on while we hopped into one drink after another, spirits for the night.

The pianist was great. He was a slick musician, and he was also a great showman. He worked the crowd firing it up and engaging in different parts of it, all the while taking requests and singing a bunch of old classics everyone knew. Naturally, everyone sang along too. There was a great and happy vibe there, and I was caught up in it too, sipping on my drink and watching the antics of the hyped-up audience and singing along loud.

At one point, I found myself thinking how good music is connecting people. It’s its own language. In a way, it was surprising to find everyone as attuned to the music as I was, and the knowledge that they knew the words as well as I did, and that these songs had been as much a part of their life as they had mine was a simple, but profound realisation. We shared this. We were a community. In that room, last night, singing along together, we were all happy and all a part of something together.

As I thought that I realised that among the crowd would be some, I have come to describe as cunts because of their political beliefs. And though that was a simple realisation also, it was shocking in a way too. How can someone vote for those cunts and still happily sing along so joyfully with the rest of us?

I would guess if there were a survey of the room most would’ve voted the same, or similar, to what I did. We were smack bang in the middle of the CBD after all, and the crowd was probably more ‘latte-sipping’ than most given the venue and the show. But, naturally, there would’ve been a few there who passionately voted for the others. What did I make of that?

You might think that the realisation sharing a sing-along with them might have mellowed my beliefs some. But no. There are some things you can’t excuse away just because you belong to the same club. These are awful times we live in, and I’m disinclined to glad-hand those who aid and abet the people who wilfully do awful things. Just because you sing along to Rocketman with me doesn’t mean we’re brothers.

That’s not to say I didn’t learn anything from it, though, more truly, it wasn’t anything I learned so much as was reminded of. Half the people who voted for the others did so I reckon from ignorance and apathy, and a few more out of greed. There are few true fascists between them. And even they take pleasure in the same things as the rest of us (and probably a few other things besides). People don’t wear horns. Sometimes you can guess at these things, but they’re no signs that give it away 100%, and the friendliest, most affable people you can meet can, sometimes, in their spare time, be the greatest bigots. You can have 90% in common with someone, but that 10% difference is telling.

Did I learn anything? Maybe I can’t be on my guard all the time and that there’s no point going around giving people the side-eye because I’m not going to know, and it’s done anyway. That doesn’t mean I forgive the cunts. This is our life. It’s too big to forgive.

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