John Brown's Birthday Bash

Tonight, me and Marti, Mertis, Carolyn, Miss Patsy and maybe more assorted and sundry clogger “girls” will be back out to Brown’s Ole Opry, commemorating a very important birthday with a very special fella. John Brown, the owner of The Barn and host of our weekend dances, is turning 85.

I wish you knew him.

Every Friday and Saturday night you'll find him out in the barn, waiting expectantly in his crisp denim overalls and his peaked bill John Deere cap. A fine edge of white stubble frosts cheeks that have been worn with wind and weather and his clear blue eyes sparkle with the pure pleasure he finds in making our toe-tapping happiness blossom.

He’s worked hard all his life, this man has, and weekend nights are his reward as well as his gift to his Mcleansville family.

He sits close to the door on the same, hard, wooden school auditorium seat he's occupied every Friday and Saturday night for who knows how many Friday and Saturday nights, greeting his neighbors one by one as they come to join him in a celebration of all that’s good and right with the world- and in particular, country and bluegrass music.

He doesn’t ask much…Just that we, his special "clogger girls" come and dance for him up there on the small, wooden square fronting the stage.

If he catches me sitting one too many dances out alongside the wall, he slowly leans forward, his eyes sparkling mischeviously, and points one arthritic finger toward the floor- my signal to quit dilly-dallying and get to steppin’.

A little dancing from us is all he’s asked for in the way of a birthday present and the very least we can do to honor someone who has brought so much simple pleasure to so many.

The last time I went out to dance, as I was leaving, he clasped my hand in both of his thick, work-roughened ones, looked up into my eyes with almost childlike wishfulness and said, “You won’t forget my birthday dance, March 2nd, will you?”

“I wouldn’t miss it for all the world, John,” I said.

And I wouldn’t.

Marti and I will step out onto the floor with Little Elvis and the house band, all the while thinking life can’t get no better than this…And let me tell you something...In light of the past week’s, well, hell, the past year’s events, it’s true. Life can’t get no better than whatever current morsel of time we have…So grab a hunk of it and hold on for all you’re worth!

It sure doesn’t seem to have done John Brown any harm.

1 comment:

Teena said...

He sounds like a cool dude!