After we had amassed what we deemed a sufficient amount of cat hair on our laps sitting around in front of the TV watching “Cops” on a Saturday Night, the wife and I were looking to get out of the house. We prefer to see live music- if the band is good there are no complaints, and usually they do not perform rap music or techno music, so we are spared at least that. If the band is horrible, it’s even better.
Last Saturday, the local Holiday Inn was just the place to go for cocktails and dancing. Dancing is a great way to stay in shape, so we avoid it, but the cocktail part appeals to us greatly. The band was a wedding-style combo with a female lead singer. They were fairly annoying, but on the whole not too objectionable for the genre. But then we noticed him: there he was, resplendent in a satin jacket with a red tie, his tastefully graying hair coiffed in a ‘70s mobster style. He did not sing, nor did he need to. He snapped his finger, elbow cocked at the same height as his head. He smiled in response to an imaginary joke. He pushed up air with both hands above his head to raise the roof. He cha-cha-cha-ed, he mambo-ed, he rhumba-ed, he samba-ed, all without the unnecessary bother of a partner. I knew this had all the ear-marks of a magical evening. Little did I know that my ears would actually be marked by this experience.
Then he sang. He piped into “Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch” with all the zeal and alacrity of someone test-driving a Lamborghini on a road with a bridge out. He was at least an entire whole-step sharp. No one in the band seemed to notice it, or they may have been used to it. No one on the dance floor noticed it; they had other things on their mind, perhaps like what might happen if the roof were to suddenly raise. My wife and I noticed it, and we looked at each other, wide-eyed and making the same face that signifies the presence of seafood that longs to go back to the sea.
He was undeterred. He pointed to fictional friends in the audience. He soft-clapped along to the music during the solos, with the microphone in his hand. He closed his eyes on the high notes, palm upstretched towards the heavens. He winked. My wife thinks he winked at her, but I think he winked at me. This guy could wink, and it’s not easy to pull off convincingly (when I try it I look as though I popped a contact lens). He did not ooze charm so much as he oozed ooze. He looked like Will Ferrell doing an impression. He was unctuous, fatuous and gratuitous all at the same time. When the song was over we clapped, because we enjoy music sung off-key. He asked us to tip the waitresses and bartenders, since they work so hard, even though they didn’t seem overly taxed by industry when I went to get a drink.
What was this man doing there? He did not play an instrument, although he may have at one time. And that one time was all it took for someone to take the instrument away from him. They did not even trust him with a tambourine. Seemingly useless band members down through the ages have always been given a tambourine, as long as they promised not to make any noise with it, and had big cans. From Suzanne Crough in the Partridge Family, to Wrangler Jane in The Termites, the tambourine has always been the traditional prop for those with little musical talent. Which makes me wonder that when Bob Dylan musically asked the Tambourine Man to play a song for him, would he have known which song it was? It’s awfully hard to tell on a tambourine.
When they finally called “last call” and turned the lights on I felt cheated, mainly because I had just ordered a drink.
Incidentally, Melody Patterson was only 16 years old when she played Wrangler Jane on F Troop the first season. I rank her second in the “Who is the Hottest 60’s Television Babe” contest: 99, Wrangler Jane, Jeannie, Mary Ann or Samantha?? The Indian tribe in F Troop was named the “Hekawi,” when they became lost one time and, after someone asked “Where the heck are we?” was misheard to say, “We’re the Hekawi!” What I did NOT know is that the name of the tribe was originally to be known as the “Fugawi,” but the censors nixed it once they heard the backstory…