Sir Thomas of the Cutoff wandered out in the sweltering heat mid-afternoon to claim our territory on the village green. A fortress of folding chairs and packing cloth covered a coveted spot for the evening’s free concert, the last of the season. St. Penelope of the Prairie met him with a few more chairs, held in abeyance in my world-famous mocha VW with the latte interior. Satisfied that our musical homestead was secure, we headed home to change, make sandwiches, fill coolers, and motor back over, all-the-while ignoring the darkening skies, threatening clouds, and dire warnings from the weather service.
It might pass over.
Look. Over there. A banquet table set up for 20. To the left, picnic baskets, like lovely maids awaiting. Up front. Children playing in the splash fountain. This is, after all, the midwest, where weather can change faster than a New York minute. Shelter was but a few yards away. We would wait it out. We decided, just in case, to go ahead and eat our sandwiches,. It’s easier to scurry on a full stomach, is it not?
The oppressive temperatures, hovering perilously close to three digits in the hour we just passed, dropped about 15 degrees. The clouds were grey and black and rusty, clinging to the tallest spires. Then, a raindrop. No problem. What is a raindrop when you are poised to hear a band perform all things ABBA? A raindrop is nothing, but, the wind picked up and tossed about Sir Thomas’ sandwich, half of it landing on the carpet of grass (which, no doubt, had been fertilized to the legal extent of the law) and the array of fresh vegetables Saint Penelope had masterfully assembled in bubble gum pink Tupperware blew off the cooler, scattering carrots and snap peas, cherry tomatoes and homemade bread and butter pickles all about. There we were, our Waterloo, securing provisions and scurrying for shelter.
We hobbled between huge raindrops to the lobby of the parking garage, where we walked smack dab into friends who were meeting us. Their first time at this free outdoor concert series was not the best introduction, for sure, but, we greeted one another and were then greeted by three ladies. “Hey. You’re our ‘friends’ from the Neil Diamond concert.” How they remembered us is beyond me, but, remember us they did. We chatted like long lost relatives, still certain the weather would pass,. Sir Thomas , forever in blue jeans. magnanimously passed out our bag of cookies to the gaggle of new-found friends.
Tom, Bonnie and Larry climbed up the inert escalator to see if they could claim a spot to weather the storm, while our three newfound friends and I exchanged names we knew no one would remember the next day. Most Midwesterners are friendly. These three women were prime examples.
I decided to climb up the non-moving stairs to find my party. I was about halfway to heaven when an employee of the shopping center said “‘ ‘scuse me, miss, but, my boss says I hafta turn the escalators back on. Can you come back down?” . So, down I stepped while he executed his job, wondering why I couldn’t have merely gone the rest of the way up. Suddenly, the steps were animated. “Can I step on?”. I could. “Can I wave like Mary Tyler Moore in the Twin Cities at the beginning of her show?”. I could (though I’m sure he had no idea what I was talking about). So, I did, feeling that this old gal, with ten sheets of wadded paper towels from the ladies’ room in hand, armed and ready to wipe down chairs, might actually,make it, after all. All thirty of so concert goers below waved right back . . . and I wonder why people always seem to remember me?
As I tripped off the moving staircase and rounded the corner, where Sir Thomas and friends were stationed, two acquaintances emerged from the parking garage. Surprised looks of recognition abounded and they joined us in our impromptu gathered. We sat and talked and nibbled and watched the electric display of lightning from our aerie. Security came by, smiling, as did management. Folks came in and out of the doors. As the night wore on, we became the unofficial Abba-dabba-doers, greeting Friday night shoppers and bearing news, in the end, that the concert was cancelled.
Well, these things happen, don’t they? What is one to do but to make the most of it.
I was one of the seemingly few not impressed by the movie Mama Mia! Fun, maybe, but the actors, especially the men, were more off key than I usually am. Maybe that was what it was all about. Bad singing but having fun. I am one of those movie goers who stays for the credits. However else does one discover the Nate Berkus was a producer of The Help, or that it was Rob Reiner’s mother, Estelle, who uttered the memorable line in When Harry Met Sally “I’ll have what she’s having”. So, I watched the credits to Mama Mia!, and I had a good smile. These otherwise stellar actors really seemed to be having fun in the end, and that, like our rained out concert, is what makes life sweeter, in spite of the rain that may fall.