Call Mary

The white slip of paper glows on the windshield of my minivan parked in front of the bar/restaurant/venue where I just finished performing.

Damn! A parking ticket. There goes part of the money I made tonight.

I snatch the paper from under the wiper blade and am relieved to see it isn’t a ticket, just some lame flyer. Before I crumple it up to throw in the trash, I examine it under the streetlight. It’s a drawing of a shaggy-haired person – could be a man or a woman – confidently holding a cutaway acoustic six-string. Above, in an elegant font, it says: “Learn to play guitar…FINALLY! Call Mary, 617-429-9441.”

I look up and down Somerville Avenue. No other vehicle has a white slip. Only mine.

Ha! I think. Haven’t I just played for ninety minutes to a decent number of people (given the economy and tonight’s TV schedule)? Didn’t they clap and cheer and buy records afterwards?

But the flyer is too artful to be dismissed. If the font was Comic Sans, Helvetica, Courier, Times New Roman even, I could laugh it off. But no, whoever made this flyer has style, class, attention to detail – they know.

I look at the other cars again: no white slips. That proves it – whoever put that flyer on my windshield knows the truth.

“Learn to play guitar…FINALLY! Call Mary.”

The “FINALLY” in all caps seals it. Mary has been watching me for decades. She saw me years back when I played in the theatre across the street, a much bigger venue. True it had been on a bill with others, a celebration of the label I was on at the time. What a night, standing ovations. Anything seemed possible. Now I’m playing on the other side of Somerville Avenue, label-less, in a bar/restaurant/venue. If I could take back those hours I’ve spent aimlessly trawling the clearance racks at TJ Maxx, listening to other people’s hits through the loudspeakers, Mary would’ve targeted somebody else.

I picture Mary in a candlelit room. Her fingers brush the strings of her guitar and climb higher and higher on the fretboard, all the way into curve of the cutaway while her hair cascades over the soundhole. Notes join together and snake up to the ceiling and out the windows, anointing her sleeping neighbors with love and peace. Mary plays for the joy of it, for the sheer act of creation – not for acclaim or a paycheck. She’s not even smug about it – Mary is above smugness.

Joy, love and peace. I’m calling Mary.


Photo by Karen Keats

On tour and looking for Mary in Cambridge MA Sun Oct 23 4 PM at Atwood’s.

2 thoughts on “Call Mary

  1. Stribs

    Not sure Mary put it there, some joker! I don’t think you need any lessons! Did Mary ever write anything as good as Cynically Yours?

  2. amyrigby

    Someone pointed out that I’d been parked there so long (since soundcheck at 5 PM til around midnight) that all the other cars Mary had targeted had long since driven off. Life would be so simpler if I didn’t see it all revolving around ME!

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