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Nirvana was covering Jessie’s Girl while I hit on some girl with a viola-string necklace hung with lavender bracts. We staked out lighter territories in gabbing while Cobain howled through gritted teeth. She pulled me within earshot, curled her upper lip, and growled, “You are not mine. I am not yours. Kurt has stomach issues. What’s the frequency, Barthelme?” I knew I’d never find another girl like that. After the song ended, a few people clapped. It was a dirty little club with no windows. Cobain brushed back his hair and mumbled into the mic, “That one’s from a guy who played a doctor on TV.” We all laughed. It wasn’t funny at all. Somewhere people were sunbathing in Paris along the banks of the Seine. I wanted to miss something more than I’d ever missed something before. But I couldn’t get myself to. The stage lights dimmed as the band fled. Everything got too bright. People shuffled around and kicked at empty bottles and trash on the floor as they made their way to the exit. A janitor in overalls came up and put his arm around me. He cupped a hand to my ear and told me, “There are no excuses in the grim margins of outliers. Be of shatterproof ideals and take comfort in uneasiness. Do not sweep away what remains before your time’s up. My name is not Jehoshaphat. Call me.” I never did. Maybe you’d like to? Here’s the number: (646) 851–0347.

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