My friend and I sat at a long curved table, that cupped a window with backwards lettering announcing it is a ‘Piano Bar.’ Unassuming, it was a tiny bar, tucked in between two imposing Federal Government office buildings. A long haired man, thirtyish, played a keyboard at our side. His singing was a bit nauseating, but after a few beers no one was really listening anymore.
Across from us was an older couple, maybe in their fifties. They looked like they didn’t have much money. They sat nursing one beer between the two of them.
The piano man asked if anyone would like to sing.
I could never be drunk enough to volunteer to do that, but the man sitting across from us stood up and we cringed. Yes, he’d like to sing. Sing for his beloved, he pointed to the woman he was with, who smiled a grin that was missing a few teeth. He wanted to sing Unforgettable. My friend and I looked at each other. This was going to be unforgettable for sure. We prepared to plug our ears.
The musician fumbled with his music scores, found it and started playing, while the man casually, easily picked up the microphone. He stood in the center of the room and looked fondly at his mate.
Then he opened his mouth to sing, on cue.
The voice that came from that craggy face, emanated from those bar worn lungs neath a shabby windbreaker was from Nat King Cole himself. My mouth dropped open, and the man smiled at me, knowingly.
He sang that one song and refused to sing any more. His girlfriend smiled affectionately at him as he sat down beside her.
He wouldn’t even take a beer from us.
What an unforgettable evening.