So we are going out for a night on the town. It is a Saturday night. We are supporting a friend, a Brubeck aficionado who happens to be playing in a little jazz club in the French Quarter – Le Plateau in Montreal. Brubeck is someone most people will know or be familiar with. You seriously do not have to be a jazz enthusiast.
We walk in and the small group of patrons are huddled around the stingy stage. Well of course this is the stereotypical image of a ‘jazz’ club… it’s not mass traffic if you get my drift. I mean with bistros and cafes and all kinds of different themed restaurants, little nooks and crannies like this jazz club are not for the masses. Do I think those who listen to jazz are elitist? Hell no. Not me. I certainly know very little about it. I just like the intimacy of it all. You get to the see the musicians up close, trying to figure out if they are free-styling or just keeping to their rehearsed routines. You get to see the expressions on their faces as they interact with each other via their instruments. I also like to sit close to anything that has a douuum-doummm thing, a bass sound that you feel reverberating deep into your belly. Like the sensation you get with a bass pan. And jazz music offers that … you gotta to have the bass!
As we get stuck in, a few more patrons come down the steps and things start getting racier. A bit more of a buzz. Some patrons are really into it. Shaking their heads to the beats, moving their legs, moving their fingers like they are playing an imaginary keyboard on the tables where they nurse their glasses of wines or cold beers. The drummer is the leader of the band and our friend. He is an enthusiast. He tells me he practices for hours daily. I can tell he is disciplined. He is also meticulous and organised as I look at his expensive drum kit. All the tools of the trade are at his fingertips. At one point, as he is heavy into the playing, I see him drop his stick and he deftly grabs another one from the neatly compartmentalised canvas pack, that I nicknamed in my head…’the sticks of his trade’. The music continues.
Suddenly, my antennae picked up the goings-on at a table not too far from ours. Two ladies, both middle-aged, dressed in clothes that reflect a latter day fashion sense. Eighties I was thinking. One was homely looking, friendly, almost ‘Mumsy’. Her female companion was slightly younger. She looked like a modern day bachelorette – albeit mature. For all I know she could be quite the opposite – but it is simply the way she looked. I thought her dress was noticeable too. Jersey material, clingy as if it was trying to be sexy but not quite hitting the spot. It didn’t cling alluringly enough in all of the right places… as I smiled to myself. Fashion wise – it was not modern or retro….just blah. Bright geometric patterns, with the hem stopping on her knees. To finish it off she had on these heavy clog like black shoes….that maybe had ‘made in Holland’ written on the sole. (Naughty me).. In my humble opinion, the whole ensemble looked a little imbalanced. But she had lovely hands and she wore big rings to bring attention to her slender fingers. Her face though, was vacant. She drank slowly and kept her eyes fixed on the jazz quartet when they were playing. Clearly she not ‘nosey’ like me, I thought.
When the musicians stopped for breaks she would sit at the table with her friend in silence, mostly looking into her glass of red wine. Her friend, every so often, would skim the room discreetly with friendly eyes. Then suddenly a guy appeared. He definitely looked like a 70’s playboy. I mean he had a kind of rugged finish, but at the same time, he was tired looking. As if he had lost his glossiness three decades ago and was trying to find it back by dressing in a similar style of that bygone era. What saved him, I was thinking, was his leanness. Later, as the evening progressed, and I continued watching, I realised his leanness was related to his ‘tight-fistedness’ for he definitely was not a spender! As we say at home, when complaining about bad dates, his pockets appeared to be stitched up. He ordered and paid for one drink that he sipped slower than a snail moving one cm. That one glass of beer was going to be the love fest for the entire evening, he was going to make it last and last and last.
The music starts back. I am listening and waiting for the moments when each musician gets their solo moment as I like to see our friend Vince, break the drums out of their jazz reverie to wake up the crowd when he gets his turn. The audience is generous. Clapping heartily away at the mini-concerts of each musician. I take a little peek at the two ladies and the gentleman. Out of the blue, the ‘Mumsy’ companion gets up and walks out leaving the bachelorette and the 70’s pin-up guy at the table. As she is leaving, we make eye contact and she gives me a little smile. I think she had done her day’s work. She probably accompanied her girlfriend to the club so that her girlfriend could have a date with her 70’s guy. But the 70’s guy might have been a no-shower or there was some uncertainty as to whether he would come or not. I mean, let’s face it, we’ve all been there. The dating game. Is he or isn’t he? Will he show up or not? Do I pay or does he? And you cannot ‘google’ it as they don’t have the answers either. It is what it is – a cattle round up… the rituals of dating.
So now that the girl-friend of the girl-friend has gone – it’s just the two of them. Now I have to switch my ‘spyng metre’ and change from examining girl-friends socialising to ‘coupling’. My glass is empty. When asked if I wanted a refill I said no. The truth is I didn’t want any antics with the BF’s credit card that is always acting like it’s too ‘tired’ to pay up. That’s another story in itself, his love-hate relationship with his credit cards.
Final break. The musicians swig some beers etc. Nobody is leaving now. Then all of a sudden, two ladies are giggling coming down the stairs. They obviously ‘bar-hopping’ as this party is almost done and they are looking well suzzled. The barman guided them right next to a table with the 70’s hipster and the aged bachelorette. By now, not only me, but Vince’s wife Genevieve, are eye-balling all the comings and goings. Her English is good, my French is crap but we needed few words to communicate. Bacchanal is bacchanal whatever your language! Both of us are women and we know we just spotted two very lush, rambunctious lady drinkers on a night out. Genevieve is a classy lady. She is so restrained and poised you could almost miss her if you don’t look sharp. Quiet spoken, shiny ‘coiffed’ hair, petite frame. I would often feel like a cabbage patch doll next to her. But she is always nice and gracious to me and whenever we go for a meal at their house, they serve the most beautifully proportioned food, that is always colour coordinated and healthy. I often lament to my partner, see small portions mean small bellys! Another thing about her, is that she never eats dessert. She is not pretending in that ‘figure conscious’ kind of way. The woman is so petite I feel if she ate more than a handful of food she would collapse from the weight of it in her stomach. She is not thin and fly away, more like a doll. So now both of us are really going hard with the spying – she being a bit more discreet than me.
Anyway the two drinking ladies, spot the odd couple, and started exchanging glances and snickering from the word go. One of them kept looking at the bachelorette as if she was from another planet. There she was with her modern-day tight Capri pants, cut-away top and strappy sandals, flat-ironed hair and mascara eyes and she watching the ‘bachelorette woman’ as if she was a fashion hazard – wondering if she would catch the ‘bad fashion bug’ from being in such close proximity to her. They ordered mojitos. I thought they looked stupid. Two grown ass women downing their drinks and licking salt off their hands. Then as soon as they finished, with their faces still grimacing over the salt intake, they break into smiley pouts, pull out their respective phones and start taking selfies. What d bananas? “Is this a drunk version of Thelma and Louise we have here tonight?”
In between their antics, the music started up again. It is last lap so it’s all for one and one for all! Louder and catchier tunes are rendered. If you were subdued for the evening thus far, now was your time to shake a leg. Well on my table, neither Genevieve nor I were moving too much but my partner was clamping away, foot, hand, head everything moving. He was going for gold! The two ladies too – the latecomers – they were dancing up and clapping more than anyone else in the bar. One of them got out of her seat and did a little jig to the bar (how do you ‘jig’ to jazz… don’t even ask) to order more alcohol. The ‘odd couple’ were the only two people staring at the jazz quartet musicians without any movement. Two statues. Hhhmm… then all of a sudden, just like that, they both got up and headed for the exit. We all stared after them. Me and Genevieve, and the two ‘drinking ladies’. Just like that, the other sideshow of the evening left the club. A few minutes later, the jazz musicians climaxed… all played out ….last drum roll… everything stopped. Clap, clap, clap…. Time to pack up. Lights people….party done! I hope the aged bachelorette and the 70’s pin up guy had a nice private soirée wherever they ended up…. ♥♥♥