It’s funny how sometimes songs can tell a part of the story of ones life. The images that they contain and the sentiments they evoke are truly amazing. Here’s yet another little slice of my life that hopefully bears telling. Once again, in the words of John Prine
She was a level-headed dancer
on the road to alcohol.
(Actually she was a level headed lawyer although we did meet over drinks. That much is true.)
And I was just a soldier
on my way to Montreal
Well, an ex-soldier anyway. I had just left the friendly confines of New York City where I had managed to abuse the shit out of cocaine, just about lose my job and find time to get divorced along the way. I was a fuckin’ mess. I somehow landed my rear end in Columbus, Ohio.
Well she pressed her chest against me
About the time the juke box broke
So, what’s a guy to do when they find themselves a stranger in a strange land? Well, if you’re anything like me, you find yourself a local watering hole, plop your keister down on a bar stool and try and strike up a conversation with some of the locals.
She was sitting a couple of seats down with a few of her friends and I kept trying to make eye contact and eavesdrop on their conversation at the same time. I figured that since I was new to town that there were many questions to be asked and answered. It wasn’t long before I sauntered over and we exchanged a little history about ourselves.
Yeah, she gave me a peck
on the back of the neck
And these are the words she spoke.
I don’t know where time went and I can pretty much rest assured that I can say the same thing about her friends. Soon, we had a little corner of the bar all to ourselves and plans were made to go back to her place and get more acquainted.
Blow up your TV
throw away your paper
Go to the country,
build you a home
Plant a little garden,
eat a lot of peaches
Try an find Jesus
on your own.
It was small but comfortable. She only owned a little black and white television set that didn’t seem to get much use. The phone was one of those old black rotary ones and the music she listened to was played on a phonograph. This woman seemed to be a throwback of sorts.
She fixed us a salad and we traded some more information about ourselves. Nothing out of the ordinary, just the usual stuff when two people meet for the first time and hit it off.
Well, I sat there at the table
and I acted real naïve
Since my past was somewhat of a checkered one, I did more listening than I did talking. I guess I figured there was safety in silence, especially my own. I found myself staring at her, staring at the pictures on the wall, staring at the simple way in which she seemed to live and love her life.
For I knew that topless lady
had something up her sleeve
To set the record straight, she wasn’t topless. Not yet anyway, all of that would come later. The when and the where don’t really matter. Not in this story anyway. What does matter is that she told me more about herself. About how she’d never been married or engaged, about her trials and tribulations throughout law school and her dedication and the nobility she found in being a public defender. After all, she said, somebody has to defend the defenseless. I was hooked.
Well, she danced around the bar room
and she did the hoochy-coo
Yeah she sang her song all night long,
tellin' me what to do.
In the days of my youth, I was raised in what was then (and certainly would be considered now) a bigoted, conservative household and this woman was the antithesis to everything that was familiar. There was something refreshing about her, something that I couldn’t quite put my finger on but I knew I wanted to find out more.
Well, I was young and hungry
and about to leave that place
We made plans to go out again soon. There was so much more that was being left on the table. I had hardly begun to tell my little saga. I was afraid that she wouldn’t like what she heard and that would be the end of it. I thought to myself “Baby steps Bob, baby steps.”
When just as I was leavin',
well she looked me in the face
We kissed at the door and she asked me if I wanted to stay. I thought that I’d be a fool not to. Stuff like this doesn’t come along everyday.
I said "You must know the answer."
"She said, "No but I'll give it a try."
And to this very day
we've been livin' our way
And here is the reason why
It’s funny how one night can turn into something like six years. It wasn’t long afterwards that we moved in together and it wasn’t long after that that we got married.
I wish this story had a happier ending. Shortly after the wee one was born, we got divorced. In comparison to many others who have gone the same route, I guess it was a simple one. For the most part, we took it easy on each other and tried to leave the acrimony on the shelf. Oh, there were some bumps in the road along the way but there were bound to be. She’s re-married now to a good, kind man and they seem to be happy.
We blew up our TV
threw away our paper
Went to the country,
built us a home
Had a lot of children,
fed 'em on peaches
They all found Jesus
on their own.
As for me, well, most of you know the story. I still try and live pretty simply at home. I do a lot of cooking to pass the time, the neighbors are nice and when the summer comes around, a city boy like me has even managed to grow a plant or two along the way.
The one child that we do have together has managed to win a lot of hearts both here at E2 and out there in the real world. Whatever it is that she found along the way, be it Jesus, Mohammed. Buddha or any other of the host of spiritual beings that reside within us all, will hopefully be there for a long, long time to come.
As for the ex, well, I’m not bitter anymore. Time has cured me of that and truth be told, I wouldn’t be who I am today if I’d never met her.
(Lyrics to Spanish Pipedream copyright John Prine