The excitement of Friday nights has not dimmed through the years, even as I have lived these past 20 of them alone. I still remember …
Texas dance halls. Pleasure palaces built mostly by the Germans. Dotting the countryside, sometimes a community unto themselves. Standing silent all week until the crowds came to dance on Friday nights. Filling with cowboys and their ladies, awaiting the first strains of that fiddle in the band.
Cowboys in button-fly bluejeans who danced with their hats on. Cowboys of all sizes and shapes, but all with the same gracious style of asking for a dance with a wink — and whirling around the floor in intricate steps, ever vigilant for the clear path. Never missing a beat. An ever-so-gentlemanly squeeze of the hand as the music is over.
Let me dance again just once more with Nicholas to the “Tennessee Waltz” at Schroeder Hall. And then two-step my way around the floor of the Nordheim Shooting Club to strains of “Fraulein” with Glenn. Let’s all join in for the “Cotton Eye Joe” at Lindenau, okay? And CC Cartwright (RIP) in Colorado — what I wouldn’t give to hear “Silver Wings” and see you coming for me across the floor.
Yep. Deep within my heart, lies a melody. A song of old San Antone. Where in dreams I live with a memory, beneath the stars all alone.
I love the Louie L’Amour novel, “Conagher”. Or was it that I loved the movie of the same name starring that rascal, Sam Elliott? Wrap those both up with Red Steagall’s song, “Red River Rose” — and I think you have the beginnings of a blog. I’ll tell you why.
Red sings of finding a note tied with ribbon to a rolling tumbleweed on a fence line north of Estelline. Lines that were written in a fair woman’s hand told of her life and the loss of her man. It’s her heart and her hopes she has cast in the wind …
The woman in the story is unbearable lonely. She collects scraps of paper, sets down a thought or two, ties it to a tumbleweed with blue string — and sets the tumbleweed free to blow across the plains in the wind.
Blog posts are like that. A silent blog published under a pen name. Thoughts posted on scraps of virtual paper, tied with ribbon and flung into cyberspace. Only one difference. Raindrops will hide the stain of tears on the paper notes.
I just met the most fascinating young man. Yes, fascinating!
He stepped out of the pages of time to usher me into a place in line (in front of him) at the bookstore. Double-breasted jacket with crested buttons. Shiny loafers with little tassels. A red paisley bowtie. And manners … wow. Right outta the movies!
Thankfully there was a long line at the purchasing counter, so we could strike up a conversation. It’s the one time I could have stood in line for hours! How fortuitous for me that Starbucks is just next door to the bookstore — and that he suggested we adjourn to the coffee shop for (sing, please!): Getting to know you! Getting to know all about you!
I shall paint a portrait for you.
A face chiseled from the kind of bronzed sandstone formations that one finds in Monument Valley. Eyes that crinkled into long dashes with the joy of laughter in our conversation. Closely cropped hair — such that none could possibly be out of place. Long slender fingers that would grab much more than an octave.
That’s the visual. Here’s what was beneath:
This young man is so well read, such an artful conversationalist, and knock-yer-sox off interesting. Skipping from the topics of books, to race horses, history, religion, travel, dancing, music and more … he spoke like a kind of statesman. Or maybe he had just memorized charming lines (lots of them) from an old Cary Grant movie?
He may have been born the year I started college, but that’s almost not believable. Didn’t he really move through time from an earlier era? A period in history where conversation replaced emailing. When books were held in our laps and pages turned with licked fingers. During a time when mothers coached lovely manners into little boys. A time when there truly was a Southern Gentleman.
Thank you for a lovely afternoon.
I read this little poem (below) as a new bride. From college to career to marriage took a few short years, so I was still in a learning mode. Still figuring out how to be a woman and a wife.
Our new home in a squeaky new subdivision was inhabited by Army officers and their families, so we had lots of commonalities. Husbands came home from the Post around 4:30 every day. Lawns got cut and watered on Saturday mornings. Guys had ‘strak’ haircuts and the gals all sported the bouffants of the 1970s. Our husbands had either just come home from Viet Nam or were about ready to go back.
Everyone blended together so well … except for “The Lady Next Door”. She was the exact person that Judith Viorst was writing about in this poem!
She wore a full coat of makeup with meticulously coiffed hair and hot pants (yes, hot pants) to carry out the trash. And to walk their little dog. And to get the mail from the mailbox. And to the commissary and PX. And everyone’s husband noticed … except perhaps hers.
It was hell living next door to “The Lady Next Door”.
The Lady Next Door
A poem by Judith Viorst
The lady next door,
Who weighs eight pounds less than I do
And wears peach face gleamer and tawny lip gloss to take out the garbage,
Has lately been looking at my husband
As if he were someone like Robert Redford,
And she were someone like Ali McGraw,
And I were someone like Mother of the Year.
[click to continue…]
I was on this very track.
From Montreal to Quebec City. From Lamy to Santa Fe. From Atlanta to Washington, DC. From London to Edinburgh. From Denver to Omaha. From Paris to Chartres. From Inverness to London.
This very track took me past slums and office parks — over rivers and through the desert.
Into the dark of night and still on after dawn.
A train ride is a very selfish way to see the country. Someone else drives. Someone serves up the food and drinks. Someone makes the berths for us to sleep in. We are pampered and looked after as we watch the world go by outside the windows. It’s heavenly.
I once rode a good distance across Canada with my nose pressed against the train window to see a moose. In Scotland, I tried to see into the pre-dawn blackness for a view of the train crossing the Culloden Viaduct (in vain). In France, I rode through the most magnificent tulip and lavender fields. In New Mexico, I searched the chamisa clumps for Indians or Outlaws. On the trip to Washington, DC, I slept blissfully while the train clattered along its historic route all night. On the track to Edinburgh, I saw a castle built more than 1200 years ago — and too many golf courses to count! All across Scotland there were fields and fields of “paintball sheep” with colored rumps. From Denver, our train meandered along the Platt River past historic forts and the remains of wagon trails west.
I can’t wait for the next adventure on the rails.
Perhaps Ireland again … from Dublin to Shannon.