IT AIN’T OPERA
The winning hot rod was chosen for the night. In fact, two hot rods were chosen. One bomb got the Chatterbox Trophy and, a 70 Chevy got the Wanderer’s trophy. As the Dee Jay for the night I announced their arrival in the winner’s rectangle. That was a mistake. Don, the High Exhaulted Grand Poobah of the Chatterbox hollered from curb side that I should call it a Winner’s Circle. I hollered back that it was a rectangle. John, who was standing between us, looked at me and said how he painted the pattern on the blacktop back in May. I think he said that a circle wouldn’t fit in the space. I figured that proved my point and angled to get John to back my observation.
“So what shape is it John?” I asked.
My victory was assured until John asked what shape Don said it was. Head bowed, I have to admit that’s one really great Winner’s Circle on the blacktop over near the patio.
Three hundred and fifty wonderful cars and hot rods came by last night. They didn’t just come and go. Bless their hearts, they all stayed. There were probably at any given time, at least a few hundred spectator cars out in the fields. Somehow with very little guidance or marked spaces in a line, they all fit just fine thank you. I don’t think even one bumper got scratched.
Hundreds upon hundreds of meals were cooked and served by a serving staff that just doesn’t stop running from morning to night. Someone dropped a tray of drinks in the lobby. It was mopped up as people walked by the carnage. None of the staff complained. They just jumped on the massive puddle of cola and crushed ice and poof it was gone. No one slipped.
Chef Reyes and his kitchen crew work right next to flames to barbeque the burgers. One guy or gal in all that heat does nothing but deep fry all day. I saw one cook deal with at least a bushel of chopped onions all on the grill at once. Nothing fell off the grill to the floor. Nothing! There’s one guy in the kitchen that double checks all the orders for accuracy before they go out to the patrons. I think he has an error count of maybe 0.0000001 percent. With all that work and all that heat, the whole crew is in there grinning from ear to ear like they’re sailors on shore leave.
The Wanderers, bless their hearts, tend to the cruise in and keep it running just fine. Mostly, they just let it happen. Everyone seems to jump in where needed. If it looks like a fifty fifty needs more ticket sellers, one of the girls volunteers. If a section of space needs a bit of parking supervision, you don’t have to wait long and someone’s at the field entrance waving their hands and pointing out an empty slot.
Some folks bring dogs. Even the dogs get along. Heck, brothers and sisters actually walk hand in hand. It’s very rare to notice them tearing each other’s hair out.
Viewed from above, the Chatterbox during cruise night, must look like it’s made of sugar and covered with ants. Just like an ant colony digs at a sugar cube with a vengeance, but never really fights over it, so goes Saturday night at my favorite place, the Chatterbox.
If ever there’s disorder and confusion at the Chatterbox, it’s got to be with me the Saturday night Dee Jay. Trying to play for both the crowd and my web audience is just asking for trouble. My records and CD’s are never in order. Never. Sometimes it seems to take weeks for me to find a song for a request. I must have to announce at least two dozen upcoming car shows or events. Request’s come in from all over the world and from people standing at my table. Some folks like to chat with me while I’m on. This is fine as long as I don’t forget to close the microphone while I’m yakking. I love the attention and want to give back all I get from my wonderful fans. Still, it’s so hard to keep it all under control. By the end of the night, I find myself tangled in wires, with cramped knee joints, and covered in ketchup from trying to eat French fries while webcasting. I’m literally surrounded by mountains of records and coffee cups. By the way, I never get through a gig without spilling at least one cup of coffee.
Funny too but we play the National Anthem every Saturday at 6pm. As noisy and confused as the place can be, every one stops in mid French Fry and faces the flag to honor our great country. I’ve even seen crippled people fight to get on their feet. Sometimes, it takes the whole song for them to rise. There’s always a cheer for the good old USA when the anthem ends and I holler God Bless America.
Last night, word got out that it was my birthday. The rumors were true. My brother and his wife Helen came up and surprised me with cake, balloons and gifts. I just couldn’t eat the cake with all that icing on it and dee jay too. That didn’t faze Helen and Ed. Helen went in to the main dining room and let the staff know it was my birthday. The secret was out. Soon, the whole crew was coming out of the lobby in procession heading for my table singing Happy Birthday at the top of their lungs. The Wanderers along with Helen and Ed joined in as well. Cameras were rolling as I lost the battle to fight off the tears.
I stopped bawling when the ice cream sundae they brought me started dripping into my mixing board. Don’t worry it still works just fine. The sprinkles formed a dam and shunted the ice cream flood out of harm’s way. I just sat there with molten ice cream all over my beard as a nice lady brought me a napkin.
This kind of thing happens one way or another every Saturday night. It never fails. Don Hall has created a miracle if you ask me.
Don came over and sat across from my table last night. He just sighed into the chair. Don is quite the perfectionist and is one of the smartest people I know. He’d have been a great general. He looked to me like he was sitting for a second to just go over something that needed doing or could have been done better. He was lost in thought.
I let him dwell a bit and then, I don’t know, I just said it. I’m not even sure my statement made any real sense. But, it hit home nicely. I just said. “Don, it doesn’t have to be perfect. It’s not an opera. It’s the Chatterbox. Don looked at me and, I figure he sort of agreed.
One of my records started to skip and I fumbled for the controls. Don jumped up and went to see if there was enough fried onions on the grill.