Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Sing to Me

Recently, Seth and I had the pleasant opportunity to enjoy dinner at a local restaurant where the cuisine is Mexican, the atmosphere is lovely and there are strolling troubadours dressed in mariachi attire who stop by your table to offer a song while you shovel fresh guacamole into your mouth at impolite speeds.

We have visited this establishment many times yet upon every occasion this trio of singers emerges, guitars in hand, we cannot help but panic.

The protocol of being sung to is very indistinct and there is much room for doubt. 

What shall we ask them to sing? More importantly, what shall we do while they're singing? 

Do we make eye contact or look away? Smile slightly, broadly or not at all? Tap our fingers, toes, or shall we sit at silent, inert attention? How much do we tip them? Do we stop eating or continue chewing while they sing?? And, why must they even come over to the table at all? 

After all, we are grumpy people who are not even certain we want to be sung to!

This evening at the restaurant was very busy. We enjoyed an initially peaceful half hour and wondered hopefully whether the singers might have taken the night off. 

Soon enough, however, Seth and I began to shift awkwardly in our chairs as the initial strains of Cielito Lindo drifted towards us. 

Our fellow diners appeared, despite possible inner turmoil, completely unruffled by the fact that three men in black velvet were about to serenade them. 

What’s the matter with us, we wondered as we furtively discussed the risks and rewards of bolting for the door.
Years ago, at a party for my birthday, a man I knew – a tenor of debatable ability -- gave me, as his gift, an endless series of songs that he sang directly to me. It took forever and everyone in the room was severely traumatized as we sat, paralyzed, through this one man show. Did my issues stem from this? And what was Seth’s excuse? 

We clutched hands across the table as we heard the singers launch into a rousing version of Happy Birthday as they placed a giant sombrero on the head of a sheepish but smiling gentleman just one table over. They would soon be at our table! Should we run? Hide? Put our napkins over our faces?

Suddenly it was too late. Here they came. Smiles on their lips, guitars poised, the question was asked: "Good evening, is there a song you would like us to play for you?"

I could feel a greasy sheen of sweat form on my brow. My mouth grew dry as the Sonoran desert despite the Margaritas I’d been swilling yet, very unexpectedly, I smiled at their lead singer -- a diminutive but dignified fellow with excellent cheekbones and a long pony tail -- and simply said, "Certainly! Please play us your favorite song!"

Where that came from, I know not but I think we all relaxed at that moment—Seth, visibly so, across the table and even the three troubadours, who must experience some sort of performance anxiety having to visit countless tables on a busy Friday night. 

They conferred briefly among themselves and began to sing a beautiful, haunting song that was sung so sincerely and so poignantly that not only did Seth and I automatically lay down our forks to daub away the refried beans on our chins but it also caught the approving attention of other tables. I think they enjoyed playing it and I know we enjoyed listening.

Hence the moral of my tale as well as a more inspired addition to my yawn-worthy list of annual resolutions (lose a million pounds, check Facebook no more than twice a day and don’t let the laundry accumulate to the point where a fork lift is needed  to transport it to the laundry room). 

From now on, if someone asks if they can sing you a song, just say yes and enjoy it. Don't fret and agonize over insignificant things and enjoy the moment, people...and have a very happy new year with love from “Susan Says…”

1 comment:

  1. I have experienced this same situation. I always completely stop eating. I don't want them to witness salsa slipping off my chip and onto my blouse, or pesky strings of cheese stretching from my enchiladas up to my lips. When I stop eating, then I have to find an appropriate place to look, their faces, that feels like too much when a song is long, I am fascinated by the beautiful suits with all of the detail on them, I look at that for a while, but then invariably, I am looking at their pants noticing how tightly they fit. When I catch myself doing that, I stop, before I start blushing, and just look at their instrument (musical). Almost always I have enjoyed and appreciated the beautiful music that I hear from them. It sounds like you enjoyed the music, too. Now aren't you glad that you didn't request them to play "Far, Far Away"?