Childhood Friend sent me an email with a very funny story earlier this week. I asked him if I could share it and was met with a "Why on earth would you want to do that? Your blog is about food." Well, maybe I should branch out a bit. Enjoy!
On Friday night I went to my favorite haunt, the Red Rhino in Mebane, where a Dixieland band was playing. Under normal circumstances the bar would be sparsely populated with people my age and older, particularly when there are classical concerts. To my amazement, however, Sal's Syncopators attracted a detachment of lovely women half my age, who decorated the dance floor, more often than not dancing with each other. One of the more exuberant of their number was everywhere, but I only noticed her (and pitied her, after a fashion) when she tried to entice an aged-even-more-bucolic version of Larry the Cable Guy to dance. It pained me to witness a terpsichorean mésalliance of that sort, so at the break I offered to buy her a drink if she would consent to dance the first slow one with me. She was perfectly willing to dance, but had switched to water by that time.
Her name was Katie, and we danced the first slow one. I don't know when our conversation turned to trivia, but turn it did. Did she know Jelly Roll Morton's real name? Yes, Ferdinand. Did I know Louis Armstrong's wife's maiden name? Yes, Hardin. Katie was from Knoxville: "What classical composer wrote 'Knoxville, Summer of 1915'?" I stumped her on that one, but she got it with the hint "he also wrote the Adagio for Strings." Samuel Barber. The slow one ended and we sat down together and did brief biographies. She is thirty years old, I am fifty-five; she guessed forty-two, but the light was low and she claimed to have no aptitude for guessing age.
At that point Cable Guy, seated behind us and asleep, hit the floor, breaking his glass. She was out of her chair as though it had an ejector seat, and Larry was on a nearby couch with his bleeding elbow elevated and a bar cloth on his wound in a matter of seconds. She returned and I found, much to my unsurprise, that she was a nurse and that she worked in a retirement home, an instance of divine intervention, although Larry will never know it. We talked more, and I learned that the string bass player in the band was her significant other. We danced the last number together, "After You've Gone," both of us singing it until, alas, the tempo increased and I was compelled to dance--or whatever history may call what I do--at a pace that I didn't care for. I soldiered on to the end, however, and we parted, foreseeing that we would again encounter each other sometime.
Needless to say I am smitten, but I got a sense that I too had made some kind of conquest. I am becoming increasingly clear-headed about these matters, and it seemed as though I supplied an element that was missing from her relationship, especially since she had revealed to me that she had training as a classical soprano. I doubt her boyfriend has ever recommended that she listen to Jessye Norman's version of Richard Strauss's "Four Last Songs," something I truly love. And was it also divine intervention when she told me that she was Eliza Doolittle in her high school's "My Fair Lady"? I own two versions of it, with Julie Andrews and Rex Harrison, who premiered the roles of Eliza and Higgins in the mid-fifties. (I don't like the Freddie Eynesford Hill from the London version, and "Street Where You Live" is one of the showpieces of the whole production.) Under ideal circumstances I could have sung "I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face" to my beloved, an easy part for a non-singer, which Rex Harrison and I were/are. Mercifully, the opportunity failed to present itself.
No fool like an old fool, I suppose, but confirmed bachelors live for the thrill of the chase. Sad to say, the prey tends to leave me in the dust most of the time. Or maybe it isn't sad.
Merci, Childhood Friend, for allowing me to use your story. Bon appétit!