This morning, I had a spare minute on my way to work, and since I’d been so good all week long, and since my travels took me right past our local Panera, I decided to stop and treat myself to a mini four-cheese soufflé (oh heaven!)– half for breakfast, and half to save for lunch.
So I’m standing at the counter ordering, when I hear…
♪♫ Let me call you “Sweetheart,” I’m in love with you. Let me hear you whisper that you love me too. ♪♫
Hmm. Strange to hear that at 7:30 in the morning. The cashier hesitates before she counts back my change. I gave her a four cents after she rung up my purchase, and she has to think because the total that the machine says she should give me doesn’t match what I should get.
♪ Keep the love-light glowing in your eyes so true. Let me call you “Sweetheart,” I’m in love with you. ♪♫
Maybe Panera caters to an older crowd than I thought. The music takes me back to Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlour – I worked tables there for two years back in high school and college.
Longing for you all the while, More and more; Longing for the sunny smile, I adore; ♪♫
Wow, the acoustics in here are great!
♪♫ Birds are singing far and near, Roses blooming ev’rywhere
How do they get their sound-system so crystal clear? It’s like they’re singing right next to me!
♪ You, alone, my heart can cheer; You, just you.♫
Ding! The little light bulb over my head flashes on. (Really, I’m usually quicker on the uptake than this.) I turn around. Ten yards away, four grandpa-types dressed in matching red vests and sparkly bow ties are standing in a half-circle, singing in perfect barbershop harmony. With feeling.
Let me call you “Sweetheart,” I’m in love with you. ♪♫
Oh my goodness, I can’t let an opportunity like this pass by! I walk over to introduce myself, noting another ten or twelve similarly dressed gentlemen standing around tables nearby. Why didn’t I see these guys when I walked in? For someone who makes it a habit to “notice things,” I live inside my head too much sometimes. I need to get out more.
“Hi.” I extend my hand to the nearest singer. I’m way out of my cozy little introverted comfort zone, but in a good way. “You guys are going to be my blog today. Can I take your picture?”
“My blog. I’m going to blog about you guys today.”
They gather around, all smiles, while I take their picture, although one gentleman is concerned that he doesn’t have his tie on. “We’re supposed to look the same,” he apologizes.
I assure him it’s OK. People will know it’s just a rehearsal. You know that, right? Because these guys take their barbershop seriously. I checked their website – some of them have been singing with the group since the mid-70’s.
Then one gentleman announces with sense of urgency, “It’s not too late!!”
What? What am I not too late for?
“It’s not too late – you can tell people it’s not too late. On your blog. We’re going to be delivering singing telegrams for Valentine’s Day, and it’s not too late to order one.”
Fantastic. This is fantastic.
They hand me a little flyer. Turns out, I’ve stumbled into a pre-performance rehearsal of the Tualatin Valley Harmony Masters. For $45, a quartet of Harmony Masters will sing two love songs and deliver a box of chocolates, a personalized card and a long stemmed rose to the girl (or boy) of your dreams. Or anyone else you want to send it to.
I can’t tell you why all this made me so happy – whether it was the four-part harmony or the bow ties or the gathering of grandpa’s. (Come to think of it, I’m married to a grandpa now. Hmm…that’s a little scary.) Or maybe it’s just that with everything going on in the world lately, it’s reassuring to know that there are still joyful, sweet songs to sing, and kind-eyed, red-vested men to sing them.
♥ Happy Valentines Day to you and those you love.
F.O.O. (For Oregonians Only): If you live in Oregon’s Tualatin Valley and want to send a Valentine, it’s not too late! Just contact dbwinkel at Verizon dot net.
Eleventh Hour Update: Mike Klein of Massachusetts says, “Your fans should know that they can send this treat anywhere in the US and Canada and maybe even the world. Visit http://www.singingvalentines.com for a group near you. Prices and presentation will vary.”
Two things about that: (1) If you’re reading this post-Valentine’s Day, then save the address for next year! And (2) Mike, the fact that you think I might actually have fans just made my day!
P.S. If you take your Valentine out for a meal this week, be sure to tip your servers generously. Working tables is a brutal business. Thank you, Mr. Farrell, for many lessons well taught.