For a while, several years ago while I was living in San Francisco, there was a bar on Broadway called the Wild Horse (or something like that), where various bands played Country and Western music. I used to go in mostly because I was attracted to the bartender, a big blonde with a vague ressemblance to Diane Ferrari, the owner of the Lost and Found Saloon on Grant Avenue.
One night I was sitting in the Wild Horse, and Specs came in with a well known woman cabaret singer. For convenience, I'll call her Tiffany. They sat there listening to the band and having a good time, and eventually the bandleader came over to Tiffany and asked her if she'd like to sing a number.
This will be very interesting, I thought, to hear this woman sing Country and Western. Her own specialty was mostly the standard show tune repetroire.
Tiffany said that there was only one C/W number she knew, and the band obligingly played it. But it turned out that she didn't know even that one song very well. Besides constantly losing track of the lyrics, she was just generally doing a terrible job, a little worse than amateurish.
It was an interesting experience, though. At the time, I figured that I was probably the only person in San Francisco would had ever heard this singer try to sing Country and Western.
About a month or so later, I heard Tiffany do one of her regular gigs at the Fairmont Hotel. As usual, she was superb. My memory of having heard her completely butcher a Country-Western song added a dash of spice to my appreciation of her now. I put $2 in the tip jar, but she didn't especially notice me. Not that I in any way expected her to.
Then the guy with the big bucket of roses came in. So I bought a rose and asked him to give it to Tiffany.
I had expected her to just accept the rose and smile in my direction, but instead she came over and started making a little conversation. I told her that I'd been at the Fairmont earlier and of course had much enjoyed her performance.
"And so have you just been spending the rest of the evening going to clubs and listening to music?" she asked.
"No, I only went to that one place to hear you. I've spent most of the evening at Specs."
"Ah, Specs," she said. "That scumbag!"
I was considerably taken aback by this comment, and seeing this, she explained, "Oh, Specs and I have been the best of friends for a long time. That's his favorite word, `scumbag.' He uses it for everyone."
"Oh, I didn't know," I said. "I saw you with Specs several weeks ago, incidentally. You came into the Wild Horse Saloon and sang a Country-Western song. You were terrible!"
This time she was the one taken aback. "I was terrible?"
"Well, but after all," I said, "it was Country and Western, what could anyone expect?"
"But I used to be a Country-Western singer," she said. "Anyway that night I was very drunk. And no one but you will ever know." (This is not the main reason I'm carefully not revealing her identity, but it's one more.)
After about fifteen minutes, Tiffany went back to her seat at the bar, leaving me very impressed with what a completely nice person she was. She was, I thought, exactly the embodiment of my concept of the nice Jewish girl, althought I don't think that she is actually Jewish. In any case, she was exactly the sort of woman that one's mother would approve of.
Sometime later, I mentioned all this to my friend Brenda.
"Oh yes," Brenda said. "She and I used to know each other fairly well, because we went to the same building to shoot up heroin. But since we've both gone straight, she's not as friendly towards me as she used to be. She smiles when she sees me on the street, but she doesn't talk to me any more."