There was a quaint little restaurant on the North side of Chicago that specialized in Spanish style Tapas and flowing libations. It was owned by an Argentinian couple that had settled out of court after the wife was run over by an ambulance. A couple of million, as I understand it. Saturdays at "El Nandu" consisted of an open mic, singing, jokes, or whatever the brave and inebriated ones could drum up.
On this particular day, an older gentleman, in a tweed jacket and hat, the kind of man that can dance a good Tango, walked up to the mike and gave us a gorgeous acappella rendition of "Dos Almas". The ladies swooned and the men reminisced. It was melodic and had just the right touch of nostalgia. Afterwards the man made his way around the tables, drink in hand, talking about the good ol' days etc. When he came to our table we all doled out praises.
I said: "How come your not a professional singer?"
"I should have been."
"In Argentina there was a show that we would all listen to on the radio. It was one of those variety shows where they did skits, and had live music and such. I must have been no older then you. In my prime."
He puffed out his chest a bit, then continued.
"One of my biggest dreams, at that time, was to sing with a group. Like my hero Leo Marini and his Sonora Matancera. When he would come on the show I would always drift off and imagine myself as part of their group. Would believe that they announced a contest to tryout and maybe join his band?! They gave us very specific instructions on how to petition to audition. I think half of Argentina applied. They would announce winners who would then come to the studio and try out."
"I still remember the day they announced the winners. It was a Wednesday,and they played up the whole thing with music and everything. Leo himself announced the winners."
"And how I felt when he announced MY name as one of the contestants?!"
"I was thrilled. I was ecstatic. I knew I was going to walk in there and I would impress them and that I would be asked to join Leo and the band."
"I couldn't sleep for days. All I could think about was the big day. Wednesday."
"The day came and I took particular care to wear my best suit. I remade my bow several times, just to get it right. I even remember the bus ride down to the station; I stood the whole way because I didn't want to wrinkle my clothes."
"When I got to the station the I went right up to the security guard and presented myself: My Name is ________ __________ I'm here for the Leo Marini contest"
"He gave me a puzzled look. Then looked at his clipboard."
- "There's no contest today."
"But there is, and I'm in it. I won the contest for the singing today!"
- "Let me check"
"He went back and called someone. They spoke back and forth and he repeated."
- "I'm sorry, but there is no contest happening today or tomorrow. I don't know what you're talking about."
"...the contest! I'm in it. I don't want to waste any more time! I need to be upstairs!"
- "Look young Man. I cant let you in. There is no contest."
"I'm not leaving here until you let me in!"
"I was so agitated! Eventually, the shows Director had to come down and he re-explained to me how they've never announced any contests of the sort. He apologized for any confusion and thanked me for being a devout listener."
"I felt like the weight of the world had fallen on me. He must have seen it on my face because the Director and Door Man kept apologizing to me."
"I guess it was just a dream. I dreamt the whole thing up."
We all stopped and pondered this Classic Man's story. Someone at the table said that they should have let him up. Then someone else made a joke how we prefer him here with us. Classic Man simply smiled, shrugged and moved on to another table.
Then some drunk took the mike to make a joke about his wife and we all forgot about Classic Man...
Memories Mean More, as I get older
1 week ago