Monday, July 17, 2006

Advice curiousity

I've had a wee request about my busking ADVICE at the Toronto International Circus Festival.

The context of this circus festival is a forum for street theatre around the world in one comfortable visually stimulating Victorian Industrial area of Toronto.

I was very fortunate to participate in the circus festival last weekend. I set up a couple chairs and a sign simply saying ADVICE within a gold frame. What I like about this idea is that it is an alternative to the expensive cost of a lawyer, shrink or psychic. And yet, it might appeal to folks who are not interested or have the time for Oprah or Dr.Phil. I could be the antidrphil.

I found I was entirely entertained by looking into the faces of people as they walked by. There were large numbers of people who never cracked a smile, tried to avoid eye contact, and walked by as quick as possible. Then there were scores who just were laughing and delighted by the sign and me sitting there smiling. They got it. Often it was one of them that came up to me. And they often said "give me advice". I would say, "anything, just random advice?" And they would smile and nod.

I would supply them with a nugget of advice about farming:suggesting we grow all our food in cities, avoid eating prison food (bread, rice, noodles, potatoes) or advise them to park their car except for road trips, avoid buying any new clothes or household items or any shopping for a year...they will feel rich. I advised they think about corn, after all it takes a gallon of oil to grow a bushel of corn. So why the devil would we want to develop corn based fuel for cars?

Then there seemed to be a lot of negative types of folks who looked at me like I told them their teenaged child had lost their virginity. They looked at me and then their company as if "who does she think she is to give away advice?" Complete disgust.

And then there were the naysayers who approached me. "What qualifies you to give advice?"

"Is that worth two bucks to you to know?"

Maybe these folks wouldn't have participated, but once I ask them if that's their question, they kind of get commited to hearing my answer and will agree to a donation. I would answer them with the following resume.

I have been a bartender all my life. I did improv for ten years, and I write scripts. I have travelled so much that my conversations with needy fellow passengers and listening to their life stories have made me wise and determined to cure the world of unhappy fellow travellers so a girl can get some sleep on an overseas flight. One year I read 300 books.

Two bucks in the hat no problem.

The most rowdy customers were often two couples out on the town. One guy said..."advice...oh we gotta try this" He had me laughing and his wife and friends laughing and I gave it right back at them. Very fun.

Ten bucks in the hat no problem.

But it wasn't all vaudeville and lively banter. I had many many serious questions that took a fair bit of time to ask the asker questions so I could get a better idea of what was going on with their challenges in life.

Lots of questions about travel and health. How to get a boyfriend. When to conceive. Should I call him. Should I call her. Should I get a whippet.

I was so blown away by the number of people who had such serious and sincere questions and I met a lot of wonderful folks and had some great conversations and hopefully hopefully a few of these fine people had a sense of peace or at least a feeling someone was ready to listen with no vested interest in their predicament but still felt responsible.

I don't want to give away the literal questions I was asked as some of them were deeply personal. But it was such a rewarding experience I took it to the financial district today and will try the beach tomorrow.

My general impression is that there are a lot of people out there that are not quick to smile, and that makes me a little sad. Mind you...after working a ridiculous 40 hour week, in stuffy offices and the world going to hell in a handbasket...what's to smile about? Maybe just maybe me and my advice sign will bring a few more smiles to the world. Cross your fingers.

I'd like to sit in Gaza and give advice.

I would say...sit down, don't eat, don't move, don't retaliate. If you took to a peaceful demonstration and sat among the bombs the whole world would be on your side.

13 comments:

fifipoo07 said...

That sounded like fun! Way to go! Besides if you are bartender you've seen it all right? Why would you be any less qualified than any of the "experts" on Oprah? BTW i think your advice for gaza could apply to Israelis, Iraqis anybody in the midst of conflict really. Its sound advice.

mister anchovy said...

wow, but it's so much harder than playing the accordion....PS I posted a song Furry tonight - and I was thinking about that strange magical afternoon wandering through the Hollywood Cemetary looking for Furry's grave and seeing the history of poor black Memphis all around us.

The Editor said...

That's scary.
I had to give up Volunteer Bereavement counselling-
what do you say to a woman whose husband committed suicide when she says "what do you tell the two young kids?"
"Daddy wasn't very happy" isn't much of an explanation

Billy Guilfoyle said...

YOu are one of the most phenomenal people I've ever been fortunate enought to come across and it feels as though we will be acquainted for a very long time. Thank you so much for the many spurts of laughter your post here helped to withdraw. You are amazing and it's so good to see you back and blogging away! Take care and visit most often, for I'll do the same with you,
Billy G.

Billy Guilfoyle said...

PS: would it be possible for you to write me and help me to understand how to post links for the 20 blogs wednesday thingy? I'm not sure how to do this yet and it would be an honor to be able to. Thanks,
B

Red said...

Sad, really, how we all seem to go about our lives in a state of semi-unhappiness, how we learn to cohabit with our issues rather than try to solve them.

I think your advice stall was a fabulous idea and I'm delighted to hear that it went down well!

* (asterisk) said...

Great job, Candy. It sounds like a lot of fun, and a lot of hard work. I bet you earned every buck.

me said...

it worked in peanuts, so why not in "real" life?

Candy Minx said...

The Editor, thanks for stopping by, good to see you. Yes, those kinds of life and death questions are the tough ones. Ones we all will or need to face someday. Sometimes we don't need to say much, but let people feel they are not alone. Listening while someone vents is half the battle.

Cappy the Kid, yes good ol Lucy!

Asterisk and mister anchovy: I did earn every buck...but it's very similar to busking music. You are standing, I got to sit. For an instrument you practice for months and years...same with ethics, advice and common sense. Practice. And basically, people aren't expecting to just use the advice they got from me...they are weighing it against what they feel, what their friends feel and family. I represented someone who did not benefit or suffer from whatever they decide to do with their advice. Even Oprah may be an unconditional support system except...she is rich and famous from it. There is something about a complete stranger listening and commenting that can really hit home or be a different perspective and meaning.

For what it's worth, I wasn't stumped all weekend. I expected to be stumped, but there was always something. Part of the game for some people was to come up with the question that would stump me, they really got that aspect of the exercise...that made it really fun!

Billy, thank you for your wonderful kind comments. People are great aren't they/we ha ha. I am very happy for all I have met online too...it is really a beautiful way to communicate and add to ones life isn't it? Right back at you Billy!

Billy, p.s. Links? Email? Done.

Red, yes, the only tough part of the weekend and busking was reconciling myself with the idea that so many people are in a hurry, grim faced and stern looking. Did I understand why? I wondered...it pained me, but I kept smiling and waving when people walked by...and some smiled back, some stopped. And some grimaced even more sternly. Go figure.

Billy Guilfoyle said...

Oh yes, I've returned to give you an email address so that you can perhaps write me some instructions about posting links to other blogs on my own blog if you have the time anytime soon. It's guilfoyle_billy@hotmail.com

Thanks again and it was such a fantastic idea to do that sign thing and make use of your own life and the many experiences,

Billy

p_is_for_payj said...

That's great!

Being a bartender definitely gives you good advice-dispensing credentials. (Unless, of course, the question is 'is this malignant?' or something along those lines...)

Candy Minx said...

Hi Payj, thanks for stopping by, you know I love ya!

I did have questions about cancer. We took it slow.

Billy, I sent you e-mail around 6 this morning, your email is at your profile. Hope you got it by now. Great to know you too, dude!

thehealingroom said...

I think this is a great idea. And you are perfect for the job.
I also thought of Jim. I think he would be awesome at this as well.
I told him about it and I have offered to make him a sign.

Either "Advice" or "Common Sense"

He's also has lots of experience at mediation.