Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Jazz Lovers and Almond Croissants

It began, of course, with jazz. That music that can’t be defined no matter how many scholars try with regal effort. The first time I saw him, arrogant prick, was at a jazz concert. I stood in line to get my CD signed by the musicians while he sauntered through the crowd. When I saw him, I wanted to laugh. All black clothing worn with a careless effort, black sneakers that looked to be expensive, and a man bun to accentuate his striking face. He walked through the crowd with an air of “oh yes, I belong here”. When he turned in my direction, I suddenly found my CD to be very interesting. Apparently my glance wasn’t timed right as I felt a presence near me. I looked up as the scent of sandalwood greeted my nose.
“I studied under him, you know.” It was him, the man bun object of my interest and disgust. I looked into his face and felt at a loss for words. His blue eyes seemed to sparkle with some knowledge that only he possessed. “It was five years ago,” he said, “and I don’t regret that time at all.”
“I’m sure and why are you telling me this?” I asked, wanting to challenge him on anything that he had to say. He took my CD from my hands and flipped it over several times as he studied it.
“You stared at me,” he said as he handed the CD back to me, “so why not?” I felt myself growing warm under his gaze and my embarrassment. “Kyle Greenlaw,” he said as he held out his hand.
“Olympia Taylor,’ I replied as she shook hands, with me giving more of a grip than necessary. His eyes never left mine.
“So, Olympia, I’m assuming that you’re a jazz fan or just damned curious.” We released hands and I gripped my CD even tighter.
“My granddad raised me on jazz so I’m here by default. I would have taken him to the concert if he was still alive.” I wanted to one up him just to wipe that smirk off his face. “And you’re here to see your former teacher.” Kyle said nothing yet remained standing next to me as the jazz quartet finally arrived at the table to sign our CDs. They were sweating from giving their all during that groovy hour and 30 minute concert, yet mustered enough energy to give us one last look at them before they left in the middle of the night for their next destination. The energy between us concertgoers and the musicians was dazzling and soon, I forgot that Kyle stood next to me. We inched ever closer to them as I racked my brain trying to come up with something witty or sarcastic to say to him. I wanted to have the upper hand in what little exchange we had, yet the words left my brain like sand in an hourglass. He, on the other hand, looked as though he could have cared less to converse with me. He came, after all, to see his former teacher. I refused to wonder about his MO for standing with me and turned all my attention to the meeting the drummer of the quartet, the first seated at the table.
I handed my CD to him and said how much I loved their concert as he smiled widely, showing off the gap in his teeth, and signed my CD. I moved along the table as each musician had a chance to sign the CD along with words of thanks and phrases from the 60s that may have sounded outdated by anyone else but a jazz musician. Kyle continued to remain silent next to me. We finally reached the leader - 80 years old and still playing the saxophone like he was born with it in his mouth. He signed my CD then his eyes went wide as he saw Kyle.
“Greenlaw!” he said as he leaned across the table. Kyle leaned forward and grabbed the old man in a tight hug as they both burst into laughter.
“Killer show tonight,” Kyle said as he pulled back.
“You know I gotta give to my audience!” He signed my CD then looked at both of us as a slow grin crept across his face. “Lucky bastard,” he said. “I hear your trio is doing well, and you’ve got yourself quite woman with you!” Before I could say anything, Kyle quickly wrapped an arm around my waist then kissed my cheek. Here we were - one white uber hipster guy grinning like crazy and one black woman completely and utterly lost at the current situation.
“I’m a lucky man,” Kyle said with a big grin that almost made me want to laugh. “I can’t complain when I’ve got her with me.”
“I can tell. Say, coming to Boston next month? I’ve got your backstage passes.”
“Wouldn’t miss it.” The old man nodded his head like a wise sage then we were out of the line and walking toward the door. When we walked outside, the cold crisp air hit my senses with a punch. I took a deep breath then exhaled with head toward the night sky. I wondered which star was mine. The rest of the crowd started to come out of the performance center. Their conversations surrounded us yet I couldn’t hear them. This guy . . . I thought. And thought some more.
“Why didn’t you tell him that I’m not with you?” I said as I continued to watch my breath float toward the black heaven. The noise surrounding us suddenly quieted down.
“Why didn’t you?”
I looked at him and his smirk. “Too caught up in meeting the quartet.”
“Ah. Really.” He crossed his arms.
“Let down your hair,” I replied as I crossed my arms as well.
“Huh?”
“Rapunzel you ain’t, but let down your hair anyway.” Kyle reached up to tug on his man bun then shook his hair loose. Long dark brown waves of hair fell around his face. He ran his fingers through it then gave it a final shake, causing me to laugh.
“Got anything planned on November 20th?” he asked while I willed my heart to stop beating so damn fast.
“Other than nothing, why?”
“How about we start with a date tomorrow, see if we like each other, then, and I know we will, have several more, then you come with me to Boston? Week long vacation.” I stood there in cold silence. Cold because I was freezing yet warming up to his idea. Stranger things have happened before and tonight . . . I looked up at the night sky again.
“One condition,” I said.
“Name it.”
I lowered my gaze to him again. “Cafe du Noir, please. They’ve got really good almond croissants.” Kyle stood in silence then leaned forward and kissed me.
“Your phone number,” he said as he pulled away. I quickly gave him a business card. He studied it then whistled low. “My my,” he said as he placed the card in his pocket, “I chose well tonight. Artist, no less.”
“Painter and photographer.”
“Details, Olympia.” He took my hand and kissed it.
“I thought you were some arrogant prick.”
He caressed my face. “I get that a lot but I still want tomorrow and beyond.” Somewhere deep inside of me, I wanted to believe him. What did I have to lose? More importantly, what did I have to gain? He asked me where I parked my car and if he could walk me to it. As we finally made our way away from the event, Kyle took my hand in his and suddenly, Boston seemed very possible in my future. So long as I could get an almond croissant. 


(thank you, Mr. Lloyd)

No comments: