Published on March 22nd, 2018 | by Randy Weeks0
View From The Balcony: Spring Seating
I’m writing this on one of my favorite holidays, St. Patrick’s Day. I think it’s appropriate that SPD falls in the middle of March—green pollen, green grass, green leaves, and green beer—all certain signs that spring is on its way. Not to mention that Ole Miss’ Spring Break is already in the rear-view mirror and the boys of summer have taken the field.
The winter of 2017–2018 was one of the coldest I’ve ever known. You have to be careful who you say that to on The Balcony though. Specifically avoid saying anything like “It’s cold” within earshot of the Brooklyn Bookie unless you want to be regaled by a soliloquy of curmudgeonous commentary. “Cold? I remember when I lived in Michigan we had thirty inches of snow, and there was an entire week that the temperature didn’t get above five degrees! Don’t talk to me about cold!” (Michigan’s deepest accumulation of snow was 117 inches in 1948. Their largest snowfall in a 24-hour period was 32” in 1985. They also dropped to -51° in 1934.) The Brooklyn Bookie has bragging rights regarding cold weather. The Mississippi chills pale in comparison. Somebody say, “Hallelujah!”
The hoping-for-spring crowd on The Balcony tends to rush things, God love ’em. The sun may be shining, but in the late afternoon it doesn’t hit The Balcony until summer. So they come dressed for warm weather only to be reminded by the shade and the wind that winter is still in the batter’s box and spring is still on deck, which, of course, calls to mind these words from Charles Dickens: “It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.”
My family on The Balcony has certain rites of spring, one of the most constant being the return of Drop-Top Tallulah. (See my column, “Square Parking” from October 11, 2017, in which I politely asked DTT to allow me to make one Square circle with her. She declined my request and her monster of a mutt bit me)
Drop-Top Tallulah reappeared on Thursday, March 15, 2018, sans mutt. She drove her red bimmer convertible around the Square, music blaring but not drowning out the sound of her own voice “singing” along. I was waiting to go up to The Balcony as she passed by just before 4 pm. She waved at me. I waved back. (For the non-purist my use of the slang term “bimmer” to identify her BMW may sound strange, but research will show that “bimmer” refers to the cars and beamer/beemer refer to the motorcycles. My good friend, Leon, an insightful man and big bimmer zealot, will confirm that, I’m sure.)
I kept a trip tally of Drop-Top Talullah’s Square circles. From 4 pm through 4:45 pm she made twelve loops. The Balcony people were highly entertained and inspired. Why inspired? Because every last one of us was thinking, “If Drop-Top Tallulah’s doing Square circles, can spring be far behind?”
In Locksley Hall, Alfred Lord Tennyson wrote: “In the Spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love.” Does a typical man’s fancy ever not think of love? Cue up the title song from Elvis’ movie Girls, Girls, Girls: “I’m just a red-blooded boy and I can’t stop thinkin’ about girls, girls, girls.” (GGG was written by the legendary songwriters Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, who also wrote songs like “Hound Dog,” “Jailhouse Rock,” and similar hits for Elvis and others.)
Although I like spring, its onset is a portent of angst and potential deprivation for me. You see, in the late fall and throughout winter it is rare for me to step onto The Balcony and not be able to get my seat in the southwest corner. (Ok, it’s not my seat. It’s John Currence’s seat. I just claim squatter’s rights.) When the weather warms I sometimes have to depend on the kindness of friends who hold the corner for me, knowing that with few exceptions I’ll be there Wednesday through Saturday. As for out-of-towners and other strangers, I reluctantly and temporarily cede the best viewpoint on the Square. That’s what a Southern gentleman does. Reluctantly. But as musician Henry Rollins wrote, “In winter I plot and plan. In spring I move.” Reluctantly.
In 1985 George Strait scored a number one hit with Hank Cochran and Dean Dillon’s “The Chair.” It’s about a guy with a few smooth moves at a bar. His pick-up line?
“Well, excuse me, but I think you’ve got my chair. / No, that one’s not taken, I don’t mind / If you sit here, I’ll be glad to share.”
So Strait and the lady get to know each other. The song ends with: “Oh, I like you, too, and to tell you the truth, / That wasn’t my chair after all.”
Well, I ain’t George Strait. The Sundown Cowboy, the self-proclaimed Poet Lariat of The Balcony, says it better for me: “Winter’s gone and spring is here; summer’s on its way, / when liquor drinkers switch to beer and in the sun sauté, / crowding up The Balcony—taking my seat away—/ leaving me to sit and pine and suffer much dismay. / May the chair be so uncomfortable they’ll move without delay, / leaving the southwest corner for me. This, O, Lord, I pray. Amen.”