Thursday, January 11, 2007

I remember dancing with old men....

There was a little bar in downtown Vancouver called the Marine Club. It was the kind of bar with a big jar of pickled eggs on the counter and a ratty old pool table in the back. The old-timers that sat on the stools around the counter were such permanent fixtures that the yellow-gray smoke haze that coloured the wall coloured them as well. It became the place that us undergrounders would go to escape for a cheap, quiet beer.

A few nights a week, a tall old black man named Frank would carry his keyboard up the stairs, set up in the corner and play music. He was incredible!! You could ask for any request, and if he didn't know it that night, he would know it next time he came. He'd turn on the drum track, start noodling away on songs like "Fly Me to the Moon" or "The Girl From Ipanema", and the old men and women would peel themselves off their bar stools and dance. I would call out requests for even older songs, songs my mother used to sing as she swept the floor, songs like "Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree", "Night and Day", or "Beat Me Daddy(Eight to the Bar)", and Frank would shake his head and laugh and ask me how a girl so young knew such old songs.

The old drunks would saunter over and ask for a dance. I always said yes. I remember these men as perfect gentlemen, polite, charming, and quite good at dancing, considering the amount of alcohol in their systems. Grey hair combed into place, stubborn grey stubble poking through jowly jaws, faded and stained polyester suits....they smelled of beer and cigarettes and Bryl-creem as I danced with them, and I loved it. I loved every minute of it.

6 comments:

Spoke said...

I smell like that...'cept the smokes.

Citymouse said...

beautiful~

Patrushka said...

You are so gifted at painting word-pictures! I could see the place so well as I read. I love your appreciation for the people there, too. I'll bet you made those old hearts beat a little faster for the evening!

Kim said...

You always are an embrace the moment kind of person. I think there is a certain awe that I hold you in just for that....as I so often hold myself back, imagining all the bad things that could happen if I did this or that. Only certain special people can bring that comfort of diving into the situation in me. You are one of those special people, you are loved.

delynne said...

hmm...I guess even though I can't see what I'm typing, it does show up in the comments! Sorry about that one. Just wanted to thank you for your "church advice". It helped!!

Anonymous said...

Paula, I loveyour memories. I hope you publish them someday in book form! I enjoyed reading about the jam camp. Sounds like a fun getaway! Where was it? Jodi