At a Bluegrass Concert


The old man shuffled in with his walker.  A group of much younger women in the front row waved him over and began flirting.  Eavesdropping, I quickly gathered that both the concert and the flirting were a regular weekly ritual.

The fiddler ran back and forth between the band--just warming-up--and a curly-haired cutie sitting in the front row with her daddy.  The girl toddled with the excitement of a child just discovering the power of being steady on her feet, and the banjo player beamed with a grandpa's pride.

And then a couple walked in and sat down immediately in front of us.  

She wasn't objectively pretty.  Middle-aged, her hair was tied up in the same sweaty, greasy knob of a bun as my own, and her long shorts had a frumpy cut.  

Neither was he.  His ratty t-shirt had the sleeves cut out and there was a huge picture of a trout on the back.  As he wrapped his arm around her, I briefly noted that he was missing a few fingers and wondered at the story.  

But I quickly noted that wasn't the most telling thing about his hand.  The really interesting tale was the way it gripped her arm--not tight enough to make her uncomfortable, but not so loose as to be a lazy habit.  Despite his tough-guy appearance, he was actively, purposefully holding her.

She turned her head to smile at the toddler, and I thought maybe I understood.  Her eyes were incredibly alive--fiercely blue, and surrounded by the most satisfying laugh lines.  It's a universal truth, after all, happy people are beautiful.

Then, the concert began.  The band had barely gotten out the first verse when the man with the walker dramatically set it aside, practically leaped to the concrete pad in front of the stage, and began to jig.  From the hoots of his lady companions, I gathered this was also a regular bit.  While he only kept at it for a few bars, it was enough to get the whole audience of twenty spontaneously clapping.

After a slow interlude from the bass player and a good, old-fashioned banjo solo, the toddler finally escaped to the stage and her mother.  A little performer in the making, she would only agree to be handed back to Dad after they let her lisp out a Sunday school song into the microphone.

We wanted to stay for more--I'm lucky if I get to indulge in that great a time people watching once a year--but our own bub's head was drooping, so we had to head home.