Today wasn’t too bad. Jim and I ate up at that bar and grill for lunch. That’s why you smell smoke on me. No, I didn’t smoke.
You played the clarinet? Did you like it? Why don’t you play anymore? Oh. Yeah, once there’s no band to play with, it is kind of dull to twiddle around by yourself. Quit making fun of me for playing the flute! “Married five years and I never knew!” you say. Yes, I think I’ve got it somewhere still. Probably at my parent's house. Probably in the attic or something. Yeah, I think I knew you played clarinet. Remember the first visit to your folk's house? We looked in your yearbook. Hon, this steak is awesome.
That first visit was great. 24 years old and we snuck off into the woods behind your house…
What else don’t you know about me? I’m not going to say it out loud, but I’m remembering this girl who played flute, too. We rode around in her car one night listening to some old music. The windows were down and the new spring air was just beginning to breathe. She told me she thought it was cool that I played flute and something like there should be less lines between the sexes, and all I could think about then was that her nipples poked through her shirt in the breeze and I’d catch a glimpse of them when the moon came through just right. We never did kiss. But it was a great night.
What I’ll say outloud is that I had a puppy who died when I was ten. You say you know that already. I think in your eyes you want to know about that springtime ride, but I don’t want to tell you.
What about you? Tell me something I don’t know about you? You’re quiet and squinting, trying to think of something. Ok, you say. “I always wanted to play in a rock band. I had a crush on a boy in college who played bass.” You pause with a piece of green bean in your fork - you always eat them one at a time - “But now I think it was an envy crush.”
What’s that! I laugh.
You laugh too. “I wanted to be playing that bass in front of all those people.”
Why didn’t you ever do it?
“I don’t know. The sorority would have teased me, I guess. We’re so sensitive at that age. About what people think of us, you know?”
Who was more important to impress? The crowds or the girls?
“Well, that answer’s obvious.” You’re smiling like it’s a dirty joke.
I played the flute because mom and dad asked me at 5 what sound I liked best and they’d let me have the instrument. I said piano, but that was too expensive. Then I said I liked the high, fun sound in that Disney cartoon and I got a flute and lessons the next week. They never said anything when I went to college and left that instrument behind. But when I hear it, hear that sweet trill or thoughtful ponder in C# in a song on the radio, my fingers still press on the steering wheel and my lips pucker just a bit. I wonder if you’ll notice that now.
Lisa Rusczyk is the author of The Blue Pen, Sam the Night Person, and Full Moon in December, published by Club Lighthouse Publishing. She lives in North Alabama with her four cats.