Friday, January 12, 2007

Going steady

Y'ALL. You are never gonna believe this, not in a million kabillion years, but if I'm lying, I'm dying. I had *~*another*~* date with <3 TooCuTe <3 tonight!!!! I know: that's, like, TWO (2) DATES in ONE (1) WEEK!!!! Y'all, I totally think he likes me. And I so totally KNOW that I like him! Shrieeeeeeek!!!! Ohmigod!!!! :D :D :D

So it's official: I am old, because typing out that snippet of teenspeak literally made my head hurt. But yes, we did in fact have yet another date night tonight, which does in fact have me giggling like a schoolgirl. This reaction is entirely appropriate, because our date was straight out of a scene from Pleasantville: we went to church. To hear music. And hold hands.


Makes Tuesday night's date at the elementary school seem positively torrid by comparison, doesn't it?

Those who know me well may be confused: I sought out music in church? On purpose? It's true that I break out in little itchy hives whenever any song not included in the traditional bright-red United Methodist Hymnal is performed in a place of worship, and it's my very personal opinion that accompaniment should be strictly limited to a large pipe organ. Percussion of any kind, including applause, causes sweat to bead on my brow.

Exhibit A: we babymooned in France when I was pregnant with C, and happened to stroll past the open doors of Notre Dame just as a service was beginning, so we ducked into a back row. Nevermind my limited comprehension of French: I was feeling emotionally and spiritually moved by the whole experience... until the congregation began clapping along with the musical selection. Trey took one look at me, I nodded, and we quietly left the hallowed space. I can't explain why it bothers me, but it just does. C'est moi.

But I digress. Back to the show.

See, last month's Dixie Chicks concert, while fun, was an aberration for us. When we seek out live music (which, I'll grant you, doesn't happen often these days), we tend to go for small singer-songwriter acts in eclectic spaces. Sara Hickman at Poor David's Pub was a great example; traveling to see her again at Crossroads was another. I heard word of Uncle Calvin's Coffeehouse when we moved to Dallas, but wasn't familiar with its location until just a few months ago. It's not a pub or a bar, and it's not even really a coffeehouse: it's the fellowship hall of a church that's barely a mile north of us, turned into a music venue one night a week.


Hmmm. My interest was piqued. I took a glance at the calendar and one act caught my eye: some band called Wheatfield. You know: Wheatfield! That '70s band from Houston. The one that inspired a young Lyle Lovett with their Austin City Limits performance in 1976. The one that wrote such hits as "Cruzan Time" and "Waxahachie Woman." Yeah, Wheatfield!

Oh, fine: I'd never heard of them, either. But apparently, one of the founding members of the band went on to form another band called Trout Fishing in America. That band, I had heard of. Trout Fishing ultimately established itself as a family music band, kids took to the goofy tunes, and Wheatville became a long-lost memory.

Until very recently, when, I suppose, someone got nostalgic for the good old days and suggested a one-week-a-year Wheatfield reunion tour. Enter us.

Now the sole reason that any of this held any appeal for me at all is that I've heard Trey mention once or twice or three hundred times over the past 18 years that when he was a kid growing up in Houston, the hot spot for dining out en famille was Steak and Ale. (In my mind, Steak and Ale looks just like the interior of the Regal Beagle.) The regular entertainment was a band called (wait for it) Trout Fishing in America. Trey remembers hanging out at the lounge, playing Pac-Man with his sister (who, it should be noted, is now officially a birthday girl), and chatting with the band.

Well, if this doesn't win me Wonderful Wife of the Week award, I don't know what will. I will buy two tickets to see his old friends making music, I will hire a sitter and we will enjoy a just-us evening of listening to live tunes, a favorite pre-parent past-time. Ta-da!

Except: there is no wine or alcohol of any kind, and the coffee urns, staffed by church volunteers, are tapped by intermission. Dinner consists of, I kid you not, a small dish of Pepperidge Farm goldfish. Save for a few bored-looking junior high-schoolers tagging along with their parents, we are easily the youngest people in the room, and among a very small minority not wearing Clarks shoes. And when one of the Wheatfielders begins jamming out with his tasty flute, Trey entertains thoughts of jumping out of his own skin.

Other than THAT, Mrs. Lincoln, the play was just fine. We honestly, and oh so earnestly, enjoyed ourselves. A husband-and-wife duo from Austin called The Flyin' A's opened: she was a mix of Kelly Willis and Trey's cousin Cathy (a musician in her own right), and he bore a resemblance to John Gorka and, oddly, Tom Wopat. The tunes were good, and, when we bumped into Mrs. Flyin' A during the intermission, she was chatty and funny and even offered to share her babysitter's name with me should we ever need child care in Austin.

Well, that immediately endeared her to me, even though she had just committed the unpardonable sin of ending their set with "At Last." It's not that she didn't have the pipes to carry it off; it's just that the only person on the entire planet who should be allowed to sing that song is Etta James. And me, when no one else is in the house. Because when no one else is in the house, I have the voice of an angel.

At last, Wheatfield began to play to the packed and eager fellowship hall. The opening song: "Seven Bridges Road." Oh, dear. But, you know, not too bad. Pretty good, actually. And the rest of the set was even better, especially after giving in to the realization that there was nothing remotely hip about anything happening around us, so you might as well have fun with it all.

So we did. We clapped and hooted, laughed at the on-stage patter, which was genuinely funny, and just marveled at these four old friends who graduated from Houston's Lamar High School in 1972 and were sharing their good times, well-worn stories and common musical experiences with a group of interested strangers.

There was homage paid to Joni Mitchell, a few odes to mid-life crises, a ditty about needing penicillin after a one-night stand with a hitchhiker (at which point I imagined Annelle from Steel Magnolias gasping, "We are IN the HOUSE of the LORD!") and an unfortunate revisitation of the rock ballet the band composed back in the day.

Up until that point, we'd been wowed by a wide assortment of instruments: banjo, mandolin, electric bass and various guitars, but when the tasty flute emerged, our hearts sank. No man can make playing the flute look cool. John Corbett tried in Serendipity, which is how I knew that his character wouldn't be around by the time the closing credits rolled. Alas.

Finally, after two standing ovations, the show was over. And so we drove through the not-yet-freezing rain to Wendy's, where Trey could get a proper dinner, went home and paid the sitter, and thus ended a date night to remember. For the record: even when he's kvetching about that blasted tasty flute, he still makes my heart skip a beat. Gosh and golly-gee.

6 Comments:

Blogger Big Mama said...

Your post made me laugh out loud and you are so right...Steak and Ale does look like the Regal Beagle.

10:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You had me at the Clarks shoes description, but when you brought in the Steel Magnolias and Serendipity references, I was signed, sealed and delivered. Love reading your blog girl!

11:40 AM  
Blogger Sugar Photography said...

oh my...you are in the big leagues now, my Amy girl!

Minivan Mom AND Big Mama? So impressed!

Plus, they do have a point, your blog rocks. I so love seeing a new title pop up and just jump in my chair with excitement...

Yes, I'm a nerd.

11:45 AM  
Anonymous trabilcobb said...

Lamar High School Redskins rule!!!

No hyperlink to Tom Wopat?

12:28 PM  
Blogger Franklin5 said...

Big Mama, Minivan Mom, AND Dallas' favorite family photographer!! Whoo hoo!

Now, if we can all gang up on TraBilCobb and get her a-blogging: that girl is funny. And smart. And a fellow LHS alum of Jaclyn Smith. (Seriously! I Wikipedia'd it.)

Seriously, you all are NUTS for plowing through that impossibly wordy post. But thank you so much for your comments. They made my day!

2:52 PM  
Blogger ssg said...

Wow! 2 dates, and a Girl's Night Out -- in one week. You are positively the coolest. Can't wait to hear about your weekend. I had a great weekend! The Wintry Mix, or continuous threat of, allowed me to catch up on all my F5 Blog reading. Your lives are so interesting. I still can't stop smiling about the Christmas Ornament stories - Carter's SO SWEET Lion and Sarah's awful experience, thought beautiful poetry.

9:53 AM  

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