Mostly Basie with a Little Bach
Donal Mahoney Whenever I see a new woman, I know I should look at her hair and her eyes and her smile before I decide if she's worth the small talk and the dinner later and whatever else she may require before she becomes taffy, pliant and smiling. But that never works for me. Whenever I see a new woman, what matters to me is never her hair or her eyes or her smile; what matters to me is her saunter as I stroll behind her. If her moon comes over the mountain and loops in languor, left to right, and then loops back again, primed for another revolution, then I introduce myself immediately no matter where we are, in the stairwell or on the street and that's when I see for the first time her hair and her eyes and her smile but they are never a distraction since I'm lost in the music of her saunter. Years ago, tall and loping Carol Ann took a train to Chicago, found a job and then one summer day walked ahead of me on Michigan Avenue while I surveyed her universe amid the cabs screeching, horns beeping, a driver's middle finger rising. Suddenly she turned and said hello and we shook hands and I saw her smile dart like a minnow and then disappear as she frowned and asked why was I walking behind her. I told her I was on my way to the noon Mass at Holy Name Cathedral and she was welcome to come along. The sermon wouldn't be much, I said, but the coffee and bagels afterward would be plentiful, enough to cover lunch. And Jesus Christ Himself would be there. She didn't believe me, not at all, and she hasn't believed me since. That was thirty years ago and now her smile is still a minnow darting here and there but now it's more important than her saunter which is still a symphony, mostly Basie with a little Bach. And I no longer traipse Michigan Avenue as I did years ago looking for new moons swirling in my universe. Instead, I take my lunch in a little bag on a long train from the suburbs and I marvel at one fact: It's been thirty years since I first heard the music in her saunter and Carol Ann and I are still together, praise the Lord. Who can believe it? Not I. Carol Ann says she knew the ending from the start. Lord, Almighty. Fancy that.