Love Plus Plus With Limits

The band was in itʼs early stages, so for us this gig was a big deal. It was four-nights a week at a place way down Pennsylvania Avenue in Maryland somewhere (Crosstoff? Fanbelt?) at what I call an authentic roadhouse. There were three separate rooms each with itʼs own street entrance. There was a big room with a bar and a dance floor, which was where we played. Then, separated by a big door, there was a restaurant with booths and tables and chandeliers, and then through another door there was a package liquor store. It was a bit seedy but it was a perfect place for a band just getting itʼs act together. It went alright for awhile but then the lead singer got sick and couldnʼt perform. Rather than cancel and risk losing the gig, we decided to keep playing and just replace him with a new lead singer; me. I knew all the lyrics, and no one in the place would really notice, so, no problem.
Well, actually, there was a problem but it took time to manifest itself. I had noticed this lady before. Sheʼd come in several times and always sat in the same place, the table closest to the band. I paid her little attention before as I was working on my guitar parts, but now as the lead singer I had to look out to the audience and make contact with them. And here was the trouble. She became way infatuated with me. She decided my name was Conway and, as I later learned, believed that the Lord had brought me there as a replacement for her recently departed boyfriend. She would not be quiet. It was difficult for me to sing and play as she would scream… ”Oh Conway, oh honey, youʼre mine…oh my baby-love, just wait till I get my hands on you…Iʼm gonna love you to death…oh my honey sugar-booger” and so on.
The real singer and myself had recently been to the 1320 Club in Alexandria to hear Ernest Tubb and were greatly impressed by his ability to connect with the audience. So we tried imitating him when we played. As uncomfortable as it was with this woman I played along with it. Iʼd say; “This song goes out to the lovely lady in the first row” and things like that. Keep the audience happy was the name of the game. Truth be told, she was not lovely. Nor was I remotely interested, for many reasons. Now, I do know some math, but womenʼs clothing sizes were never an algebra within my grasp. This lady was not what I would call a “Plus-size” and I doubt she could be squeezed into a “Plus-Plus” size either. But another “Plus” or so would probably get close to the real figure. Nothing wrong with that! I know for a fact that love and happiness come in all shapes and sizes. The problem lay in the differential equation. I was an extremely skinny boy and it would have been dangerous for me. I could have been injured, or worse, I could have disappeared. She was right; she could have easily loved me to death. When the band took a break she would call out to me; “Conway, get your skinny little ass over her; I bought you some food to fatten you up.”
She would have burgers and fries and shrimp on the table, and drinks, for me. (One of the band members said she was going to fatten me up so she could cook and eat me.)
I was nice and polite, but stand-offish. Iʼd say I had too much already, or that I couldnʼt sing after I ate, or, I would eat some and drink some and tell her to stop. She was determined to win me over. After awhile I began to goof on her a little bit. Iʼd say things like;
”Hereʼs a song for the ladies in the back-row”and she would turn and yell at them;
“Heʼs mine, and if you mess with him Iʼll pull your hair out!” They believed her! Her words carried weight. She came in every night all dolled up with giant ribbons in her hair and long gloves with rhinestones. It was like some crazy movie. It began to get too weird for me, but I tried my best to be like Ernest and be gracious and kind. At last, the lead singer returned and I went back to being the guitar player. The lady was unhappy about this and kept screaming for “Conway Conway.” Finally I had to put an end to it. One of the band members had brought his wife to the gig and she sat by herself while we played. This fact caused my lady friend to become suspicious. During a break I told her that she could not really be in love with me because she didnʼt really know me, and that I could not be in love with her. She replied that it was too late, she was already in love with me and that she would make me fall in love with her, and besides, it was the Lord’s work, not mine or hers. Then a scheme fell into my thoughts. I told her that I was already deeply in love with someone else. She said…”Who; her?” and pointed to the bass player’s wife. I said….”No, not her…..him” and pointed to the lead singer. Well, that was the end of that love affair. She got gone real quick. Not long after this night the gig ended and I donʼt remember much else except being glad to get away. There is one detail I have left out of this narrative so as not diminish itʼs effect. It is something I will never forget as it was just too, too perfect. Her name was Effie Clinker.


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