Sunday, March 8, 2015

When the Proposal's Gone

If you're going to go after someone, go after her in a big way.

With plans to meet friends for brunch, the Spring-like weather inspired me to walk to Carytown and it was only because I was walking west on an eastbound street that I even spotted the Byrd Theater's marquee.

Will you marry me?

In the scenario in my head, the source of this message would suggest to Caroline a sunny morning walk, perhaps to brunch at Secco or Amour or even just to Dixie Donuts for a treat.

Like me, they'd round the corner - holding hands, of course, and talking animatedly about something interesting - from the Boulevard to Cary Street and Caroline would see the proposal.

He'd drop to his knees and look up at her expectantly and Caroline would smile (to the point of dimples if she had them) and nod her head repeatedly, too surprised to speak.

Another part of me thinks she'll look at the marquee, look at him, roll her eyes and laugh long and hard. Marriage, really? So old school.

Except I'll never know how Caroline reacts.

Without a shot at knowing the romantic resolution, I met my friends for brunch where conversation led to me being shown pictures of their dog and cats. It was while I was admiring their four-legged friends that my friend complained that his girlfriend gave the pets more one-on-one attention than she did him.

Turns out he wants to be stroked, petted and cooed over just the way she does with her furry roommates. I find this hilarious since I've known him for years and had no idea he wanted to be treated like a domesticated animal, which, come to think of it, I suppose some boyfriends are.

Once we finished eating and catching up, he wanted to go outside and take a picture of the Byrd's marquee, no doubt to post on Facebook. If I were cynical, I'd wonder sometimes why people took pictures before there was online posting.

From there, we parted company but only for a while. The plan was to meet at Hardywood for music in an hour, so I took my time walking home, noticing how many people were outside on their front porch soaking up this gorgeous day.

I ran into a dog walker listening to the new Matt Kearney and spotted several hopeful patches of crocus in bloom that were probably buried in snow a few days ago.

When I got home, I was glad I'd left my windows open before setting out because the apartment smelled like sunshine and freshness instead of the same stale winter air that's been circulating for months now.

Luckily, Hardywood had taken the same approach, opening two of the garage doors to the brewery so that the afternoon sunshine and warmth could permeate the smelly hop-saturated space.

My brunch dates were nowhere to be found, but my favorite Jackson Ward couple were there, already engrossed in the Green Boys' set, which had just begun.

It was the Green Boys who had brought this non-beer drinker out to a brewery today because it had been too long since I'd seen them play. Young and extremely talented, their brand of country revival ranges from sad and slow to dance-worthy almost bluegrass.

A friend whispered that they hadn't been playing out much lately, but you'd never have known from their tight harmonies and playing. A few people up front were shuffling about as if they wanted to dance but hadn't yet had quite enough beer to make it so.

It was during their set that my brunch friends finally arrived, admitting that they'd gone home, sat down in front of a screen and almost fallen asleep. "I said, we better get up and do something or we'll be in for the rest of the day," my friend recalled.

Let's see, music in a room open to the temperate afternoon or sitting inside oblivious to the loveliness of the day. Not a tough call.

We chatted with the friend who's recently begun working at Sugar Shack Donuts, which surely holds a lot of appeal as far as munching goes, but also requires being at work at 4 a.m. Um, no thanks.

Her husband was funny, though. "She comes home smelling like a doughnut sometimes," he said with a shrug, as if saying his wife could smell like worse. Given how wondrous just the air around Sugar Shack smells when I walk by, I imagine having a partner smelling of fried dough would have its appeal.

All of us were looking forward to seeing Locust Honey, a Nashville by way of Asheville quartet of women.

Watching them set up, one friend admitted he'd always wanted to play fiddle but didn't have the patience to learn. Another said she was in love with the sound of slide guitar and drawn to guys who played it ("Oh, good hands, eh?").

I shared that a girlfriend had assured me that if you were going to date a musician, a horn player was the way to go.

My friends had opposite reactions. The boyfriend looked confused, but my friend wasn't. "Embouchure!" she squealed, apparently having learned its benefits from a teenage boyfriend who played trumpet. Her current squeeze rolled his eyes.

Sound issues finally resolved, it was time for Locust Honey to play.

Fiddler Chloe said they'd just come from doing a radio show in Floyd, Virginia ("Anyone heard of a little town called Floyd?" got all the old hippies affirming) where she'd been cast as a French Labrador ("Oof!" she barked). "It was our shining moment in musical theater," the banjo player joked.

With banjo, fiddle, upright bass and acoustic guitar, the band played intimate-sounding new and old-timey songs, harmonizing ethereally as only women's voices can.

"It's nice to look out and see people looking happy and sunny like Spring is coming," the guitarist said.

When the crowd was asked if anyone was an Ernest Tubb fan, only one person yelled back. "That's all you need is one," Chloe said.

Saying they had a song being used in an upcoming Richard Gere movie, they announced the song "When the Whiskey's Gone," saying, "It's a tragedy." No doubt brown liquor drinkers everywhere agree with that sentiment.

All four were talented musicians playing confidently, with three of them trading vocals for a variety of lead singers and musical genres. Songs ranged from old English ballads to classic country to gospel with the occasional man-done-me-wrong song thrown in.

Hands-down favorite title: "I've Forgotten More Than You'll Ever Know About Him."

Amen, honey.

Although many in the crowd left before their set ended, those of us who stayed were treated to the Green Boys' Nathaniel sitting in on mandolin for their last barn-burner before saying goodnight.

Best of all, walking out, it wasn't pitch black because of last night's change to daylight savings time. It felt like there was still time for something good to happen.

Still time to say yes. Caroline, if you've already forgotten more about him than any other woman will ever know, you may as well go ahead and accept. What else have you got to do?


  1. FWIW, That proposal was from one "she" to another, no "him's" about it. Caroline said yes.

  2. Congrats to Caroline! Thanks so much for letting me know how that turned out. I hope they have a long and supremely happy life together!