30th Street Senior Center: (San Francisco, 1997)

I’m going back someday, come what may, to Blue Bayou. This time it is me singing, in ‘77 it was Linda Ronstadt, Roy Orbison before her. First job on the west coast and this wasn’t in my contract, but they’re hungry and disgruntled, the elderly, the old people, los viejitos. They stare at me, holding their lunch tickets, mostly mesmerized by the 24-year old white guy on the mic. I look out at them, see my reflection in their Walgreens bought eyeglasses. The room is a hundred people full, the front row a couple feet away, Margarita the wavy-haired Salvadoran dance queen, Eduardo who likes to talk Giants, runs the snack room, Carmelita the Dominicana, calls me Danielito, thrusting her buxom chest at me. Between songs I call out the numbers, groupo diez a veinte, I say. Send me ten more, says Charlie. Charlie doesn’t speak Spanish, takes pride in his role operating the elevator that brings everyone down to lunch. White-haired William always has a number in the 40’s, starts shuffling towards the elevator when I call the first group, 15 minutes later he makes it, no one helps him, his choice. It takes time to feed everyone, the canes, the wheelchairs, the metal walkers, but we get there each day. Most of them are gone now, sometimes I check the obituaries, see a name I remember. If I could only see, that familiar sunrise, through sleepy eyes, how happy I’d be.

Blue Bayou by Linda Ronstadt:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kp9G0zkorio



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