Winter is the perfect time to explore the natural stone shelters where native Arkansans once lived
Back when The Observer was a pup, new in Little Rock and working a real job for the first time, I lived in the second floor of an old brick house near MacArthur Park with a pair of roommates who lit out for bigger cities long ago. Our rent was cheap. Aside from the day we moved in and the day we left, our kitchen was never clean. Every time we had a party, a leg from our coffee table gave way. It was a good time. A time, I recalled last weekend at the wedding of one of the old roommates, that lives on in my mind as the hazy halcyon days. Which is to say, I can't remember that era with much specificity, but it gives me a warm feeling. Some of the fuzziness is a product of the passage of time; it's been a decade. Some might have to do with our lifestyle at the time. We went to a bar or had people over to our house Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Just like the Baptists, we needed a couple of days of weekly ritual in between. On Wednesday, your trusty scribe hosted a radio show, a recuperative soundtrack for the house and friends across the city, where I tried to never play the same song twice. On Sunday, we'd eat our breakfast on the porch and watch the Latino congregants eat mangoes on sticks after mass at St. Edward's Catholic Church.
Other blips of memory: one roommate, the one who recently got married, wearing the same purple tuxedo shirt every time we had a dance party and always dancing in front of the mirror; our furniture flying off the second floor porch (Why? To what end? I can't remember); a jilted flame of the other roommate riding her bike into one of the duck ponds at MacArthur Park in an attempt to get his attention.
The roommate who recently got married was the house mascot. People came to our house and later became enduring friends with The Observer because of him. He was mostly known for the loud times. The impromptu sing-alongs. The dancing. Surely he was responsible for throwing our furniture off the porch. But, as I said in a toast at his wedding, he was exceptionally good at the quiet times, too. My fondest, if still vague, memories of that time involve sitting around and talking about things that don't matter. I used that line at the wedding, too, and another friend called out, "But they do matter!" Which of course is true.
Speaking of our friend, befitting a person good at both the loud and quiet times, he threw a monster of a wedding in New Orleans. The wedding party, or at least all those aside from the bride, walked down the aisle to a mournful, achingly beautiful acoustic rendition of "All My Rowdy Friends (Have Settled Down)." The groom and the officiate, both writers, put together the vows with input from the bride. Our favorites:
"Will you promise to always cook with salt, but never too much?"
"And whoever doesn't cook, does the dishes?"
"Knowing that D. will play too much fantasy baseball and G. will watch too many trashy cooking shows on The Food Network, will you strive to turn foibles into avenues of admiration?"
The ceremony concluded with the groom singing an old song by Minnie Ripperton's band Rotary Connection to the bride, then the bride singing with the groom, then the wedding party singing with the wedding couple and then all in attendance singing along. The bride played a harmony line on her trombone on the last verse. Which segued nicely into a New Orleans brass band leading the wedding in a second line of hollering and singing and dancing joyously through the Lower Garden District.
Who knows what the next 10 years will bring for The Observer, but hopefully memory will save a place for a snippet of the wedding. The sound of the bass drum pounding down the street and "turn foibles into avenues of admiration" would be enough.