Last evening I walked over to the Concerts on the Quad on the ISU campus. The type of music this week is Jazz, featuring members and friends of the faculty. Professional musicians on a makeshift stage doesn’t get much better.
The weather was iffy to be outdoors, but there is an ‘in case of rain’ alternate auditorium inside one of the buildings, so off I went.
I decided to treat myself a little, so I put a bottle of root beer in the fridge in the morning, then carried it in the side pocket of my crochet bag.
As I was walking through the north parking lot, a man about my age was taking his folding chair out of the trunk of his car. He asked if I was going to the Quad, and at my affirmative answer, he fell into step with me.
I didn’t see any cause for concern, we were just going to the same event at the same time.
There was no way I could walk any faster to avoid him. I had already walked more than half the distance from my house, and I was carrying my bag and chair. I kept the pace I have learned is comfortable for my short legs.
He started to talk about how much he likes Jazz music, and asked if I know anybody performing.
This also seemed harmless enough conversation, and I answered that I know many people who work on campus.
Even though I was walking normally, he was finding it a bit difficult to walk alongside. I took this as a sign that maybe I, myself am getting into better physical condition.
By the time we got to the corner and stood waiting for the light to change, he was breathing a bit fast. Those few seconds of standing still were enough to revive him, so once across the street, he asked if I was meeting anyone.
I wasn’t sure what to say. I wasn’t really, but several folks I know also like to attend these events, so sometimes I sit nearby. Usually, I like to be by myself and settle in with my crochet and watch what everybody else is doing.
And then I realized what he might be leading up to, as in, would it be fine if we were to sit together, what with a common interest in music and all?
I stopped walking and set down my chair for a rest. I looked full at him. I sure hope my acting ability came out good, but mostly what I felt was motherly concern.
Which is weird because the situation we were in, at age early 50s, is what kids in junior high go through.
His question had asked if I was meeting anyone.
He looked hopeful about my response.
I tried so hard to keep the expression on my face neutral.
I didn’t think I had done anything to give him reason for hope.
I don’t really want to hurt a guy’s feelings, especially one who looks like he’s been hurt before.
I pulled up the right side of my mouth into a half grin. I had to practice that look in the mirror after the numbing for a root canal causes my cheek to droop a little.
I spoke softly, a bit wistfully.
No, I’m not meeting anyone, but usually I just sit alone at events when my husband isn’t able to come with me.
Are you meeting anyone?
At the word ‘husband’ the look of his face had gone to crestfallen.
He looked away, toward the stage, and mumbled that no, he sits alone.
I sighed, picked up my lawn chair, turned towards the snack wagon.
Well, I said. The music will still be good.
I bought a bottle of water, knowing the root beer would not be enough to cool me off.
Then I went to my favorite spot near a light, set up my chair, and got my crochet hook and yarn ready.
A couple older ladies who have been there the last couple weeks seemed eager to see what my project of the evening would be.
The music was good.
Although I guess I do appreciate Jazz more in a smaller, darker, noisier setting of a nightclub.
The Concert on the Quad is calm and sedentary.
Afterward, as I was folding my chair, I noticed the fella about 30 feet away, over my shoulder. He had positioned himself so he could watch me with my hook and yarn while still seeing the stage.
He caught my eye, and gave a small half grin, then finished folding his own chair, and turned to walk toward the parking lot.
I spied a group of church folks, so I went over to show them my handwork, a blue and green potholder.
While I was walking home, about halfway there, the clouds opened and I got drenched with rain.
A summer evening I’ll long remember.
~~love and Huggs, Diane