I married Isis on the 5th day of May
It’s 4 o’clock on a Friday afternoon and all the barstools are full. I don’t mind – I’m on the other side of the bar, pouring beer, filling in.
It’s good to be busy.
“Desire” weaves around the customers – I love playing music in the bar. I like watching how different moods settle over the crowd. It doesn’t matter if they’re aware or not – I know. The dark swirls of “Desire” end. I put on Waylon Jennings.
Someone’s gonna get hurt before you’re through
“Who’s this singing?” A girl asks.
“Waylon Jennings,” I say.
“Huh. He’s good. There’s a group called the Wailin Jennys – I wonder if they’ve heard of him?”
It’s hot tonight. Everybody’s thirsty. They’re ordering beers faster than I can pour them. It’s like a break when someone asks for a glass of wine – I get to step away from the taps, place the glass carefully, uncork the bottle, take my time pouring. Set the stemmed glass down. I can’t decide if there’s something different about people who drink wine, not beer.
Most of the beer drinkers are regulars. Occasionally I have to card someone I don’t recognize – I’m always way off. A blond, baby-faced guy I think can’t be twenty one turns out to be thirty-five. A girl with dewy skin and huge eyes – 1987. But she looks like a child! I see 1988 as the cusp between early and full adulthood because that’s the year my daughter was born. Now I notice young people that age beam and act pleased when I ask to see ID – they’re already feeling that time is running out.
Don’t doubt yourself babe.
Now I’m playing Jackie DeShannon. Acoustic guitar demos of songs she wrote for other artists. I notice that her voice sounds a bit like Faye – it has this appealing rasp, a catch, a huskiness that is so covetable. Most of us only get to know what it’s like to sound that good when we’ve got a sore throat – it makes being sick almost bearable, to get to have that voice.
Faye Hunter. I can’t believe you’re gone. I haven’t seen you in so many years, except on Facebook. You crossed through different phases of my life: the Winston-Salem part of my first husband’s youth and music history, and rocking on great bass and cool singing and presence and awesome hair appeal in Let’s Active; the New York City in the 80’s/early 90’s working, making music and art, you babysitting my daughter and the hours we spent talking about everything; back to North Carolina where I got to see you when I came through to play once or twice; again in Nashville you helped me with Hazel and then popped up again online to be in touch again, to weigh in and comment and how much it meant to have a like from you, silly as that sounds. I only wish I’d seen you again, could’ve given you a hug. Played a song with you, heard that voice.
I know they’re having a memorial for you now, down in Winston. It makes me so sad. You were loved.
I’m standing by the speaker now. The beer drinkers are a blur. Jackie’s still singing.
You’re lucky, you’re lucky, you’re lucky –
The disc is stuck.
It’s a good thing – it wouldn’t do to start crying behind the bar.
I put on Roy Loney and the Phantom Movers: A Hundred Miles An Hour. Start polishing pint glasses.