Teri Orr: An old rodeo
Each night, for maybe a week now, I have been humming around the house. I enter from the garage, at day’s end, through the laundry room. Sitting on the floor, in two large glass vases, with polished shiny river rocks, are bulbs that have been growing since after the holidays. I purchased them back in late November/December to give as gifts. But they refused to grow, as promised, in time for Christmas. I labeled them dudes and stuck them in the laundry room to figure out what to do with them later.
Somewhere in mid-January the neglected bulbs starting edging up inside the glass to my amusement. The Christmas flowers, I figured now would bloom in February. But they seemed to stop somewhere during then and I kept up my steady diet of inattention. In the past two weeks they have shot up and outside the glass with tight flower buds looking like they might open up any day. I can see hints of red inside those leaves. I have not watered them or moved them into different light in over three months.
I live alone, so solely for my own amusement, each evening when I enter from the garage and turn on the light this week , I have checked on almost flowers and I start singing, "Amaryllis by morning" in my best George Strait voice. And it never fails to make me smile in a goofy way.
It takes me back to a winter when my son was maybe 20, maybe 20 years ago. He was home for a winter break from college. He had grown then to his full height of 6’3" -a tall, lanky guy with strawberry-blonde hair below his shoulders. I took him with me to a party a friend of mine of was having in his massive, wacky condo in Deer Valley. (When he later sold the condo, he had two prices — a higher price to sell the condo unfurnished. A lower, much lower price, to sell it fully furnished. Even he didn’t want all that stuff he had collected anymore.)
The party had bottles of various liquors and wines opened on the counter and glasses to self-pour. Somebody had put out cheese and salami and some veggies with ranch dressing. There might have been a bowl or two of nuts. It was casual as casual used to be. There was music and my friend had some guests staying with him to ski and he had a habit of picking up more along the way. So the house was lively when we arrived.
I should step aside here a moment and explain my son has always been a quiet guy. Very smart. Very athletic. Very quiet. I thought taking him, as a young adult, to this adult party would be a good way for him to feel comfortable in his new adult world. The part I forgot was he was a sophomore in college in another state. And as anyone who ever gone away to college knows, things are different there than home.
Well, the music switched from ’90s pop-rock stuff to a country song and two lovely ladies, close to my age, looked around for men to ask them to dance. I recognized one of the women. She and the other lady tried to do some version of a Texas two-step but they were failing miserably. My son looked at me and said, "I can fix this," and then he stood up and tapped the one women on her shoulder, in the age old wordless expression of "I’ll take over now," and the boy, formerly known as my awkward son, started right in looking like someone who knew his way around a Texas dance floor. I was floored. They were singing the words and laughing and laughing and talking until George Strait’s song ended and he bowed a little bow and came back to sit next to me by the fire. This stranger, my son.
I said, first, "Where did you learn to dance like that?" and then "How did you know the words to that old country song?" He explained that he had quietly joined a fraternity at school. His new roommate was from Texas and he played George Strait all the time. Baffled by this news I asked whatever did he and that lovely women talk about on the dance floor. "Oh not much," he replied. "She said she thought I had good hair." And a wide smile crossed my face. I told my son when the spokesperson for L’Oreal, which was one of Cybill Shepherd’s job at that point in her career, says you had good hair, you take that as a high compliment. He shrugged. He had no idea who his dance partner was.
On the way home later in the car he started humming that song and I started singing, "Armadillo by morning…" which he assured me were not the words. (This young man later became a physicist — his life was/is very exact and precise.) I started again, "Ammeretto by morning…" and though he smiled he asked me if I even knew there was a town in Texas named Amarillo. Smarty pants college kid. I assured him I did and proceeded to end with "Amaryllis by morning." He finally started laughing. For the rest of his break, on occasion one of us would pass the red blooming flower on the dining room table and burst into our best/worst George Strait voice.
I realize he may remember all this somewhat differently. Let him write his own story.
Since I can’t imagine anyone thinking of Amaryllis as a St. Paddy’s Day flower I think I’ll just keep one for myself and take it out of the laundry room and place it on the dining room table.
As to the other one, well, my son’s birthday is next week. He might not find it funny or even remember that silly night but he might find something slightly odd and out of season about it all and that would be just his style. The Grands will laugh at its Seuss-like large flowers and it will remind me just how far we’ve all come from that Sunday in the Park..
Teri Orr is a former editor of The Park Record. She is the director of the organization that provides programming for the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Center for the Performing Arts.
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