"There are notes between notes, you know." -- Sarah Vaughan

Monday, October 20, 2008

Misty water-colored memories

I wrote this (unfinished) essay during the first year Mr. SingLikeSassy and I dated. I forgot about it until my (still fairly damn new!) laptop crashed recently and I was searching through my external hard drive (I was backing up my files when it crashed) to see if anything was trapped in the laptop that I really needed. Anyway, this brought back some sweet memories and I thought I would share. Feel free to critique. I've wiped it a little to get rid of things that might identify anyone. And, again, it's not finished.

Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered
By [SingLikeSassy]

We met late one drizzly Sunday night at a jazz club in Adam’s Morgan, a blind date of sorts. [Mr. SingLikeSassy] sits in with the band sometimes and had hopes of wooing me with his musical prowess.

But when he rushed into the club 15 minutes after our agreed meeting time -- I’ve since learned he’s always just a wee bit late -- we forgot about the band, the club, the music, the people. The [instrument] stayed in its case. [Mr. SingLikeSassy] wouldn’t take the stage that night. Instead we talked, laughing over, around and through the music, a soundtrack to our rhapsodic connection.

Music turned out to be our common denominator. My dream of chucking the reporter’s notebook and taking my fledgling cabaret act on the road was one he knew personally: his mother was a successful cabaret singer for many years. My ability to dissect a song by each chord and instrument surprised him. The role music played in his life -- music teacher, musician, graduate student of music -- impressed me.

Reluctant to end our second date, [Mr. SingLikeSassy] talked me into stopping at his house and sharing my instrument -- my voice -- with him as he accompanied me on piano. Before taking me home we chatted. He stared into my eyes as I nervously prattled on about some fluff.

Once at my house he walked me to the door, squeezed my hands and left –- no kiss, just the promise of it floating between us. From there, our relationship moved forward with the smoothness of a cantabile, but it would be some time before I heard him play the [instrument] that went everywhere with us -- movies, dinners, plays -- and was akin to an appendage.

One Sunday as we snuggled and watched the characters on the corner outside his window, [Mr. SingLikeSassy] asked me to go with him to a performance scheduled that afternoon at a church.

[Mr. SingLikeSassy] and I got there 15 minutes later than we intended, both of us flustered from struggling to be on time. The slip in schedule was my fault: A last minute run for pantyhose took longer than I had planned. We parted just inside the church doors as he rushed away to find [event organizer].

A small snag almost left me standing in the church lobby instead of sitting in the fellowship hall with the rest of the congregation, but a kindly gentleman relented and let me pass through the gaggle of mink-clad women.

Once inside, I survey the room, looking for a place to sit in the back, worried about being in the way. Instead, the event organizer grabs me and leads me up front to a table of elderly church members, where she introduces me and then leaves me with whispered instructions to "take care of them."

I look at everyone and smile, they return the gesture.

The tiny caramel-colored man with the shaky hands sitting on my left is not a member, he tells me. No, he attends a church down the street. However, as a former vice president of a major corporation, former football coach at a nationally-known HBCU and World War II veteran, he had many, many friends -- some of whom attended this church -- so he often participates in its activities, he says.

The peach-hued lady sitting on my right swathed entirely in Afrocentric cloth, joined in 2003, she explains, after a 4-year search for a church home following her move to the District from Detroit.

Once the introductions end, we sit in polite silence waiting for the program to begin.

"Where's Francisco?" Afrocentric asks, her Charlie Brown-like face twisted with displeasure over a change in the event lineup. "This guy is OK, but I like Francisco." I smile at her, and because I'm a southerner and we never treat our elders unkindly, I say, "Oh, you'll like this guy." In my head I tell her to shut up, the program hasn't even started yet.

The pastor gets up to greet the congregation and announces that a red Dodge Neon blocking the alley is about to be towed. No one 'fesses up to owning it, so he repeats himself, waits two beats for a claimant, then moves on to other business.

Tiny man next to me pops his head up. "What kind of car did he say?" he asks. I tell him and he struggles to get out of his chair. It's his rental car. His BMW was stolen last week, he explains. He stumbles toward the door, dropping the car keys and struggling with his coat. I sigh inwardly as too many years of good southern breeding kick in and I mouth to Afrocentric lady that I'm going to help him, stand up on my 4-inch heels and the two of us totter out into the frigid cold to relocate his illegally parked car.

When we return to the table, the band is playing. I'm barely back in my seat before the queenly octogenarian lady two chairs over starts to choke on a peanut. I get back up and walk to the kitchen in what I now painfully realize are too high heels to get her some water.

Trouble again averted, I sit back down and wait. He's next.


  1. nothing sexier than sharing some jazz...

    And, don't you know this by now? You can only save the world when wearing flats ;)


Use your inside voice ... or I'll put you outside. -- SingLikeSassy