The slim, handsome man dressed in a royal blue three-piece suit with a bright yellow tie was standing in the doorway of an apartment building in the French Quarter of New Orleans as I strutted up the street in an LBD (little black dress) and red stilettos. I smiled in his direction and he placed his hands over his heart, fell to one knee, and belted out a hearty, “I know you’re gonna leave me…” I looked over my shoulder and flashed him my best mega-watt smile and kept going. I was on a mission—Emeril’s restaurant to enjoy dinner for one.
I couldn’t tell if my serenader was dressed for a gig or if that was just his normal evening attire. What I do know is that was the year I drove across the country to move to Miami Beach, 2002, and if I close my eyes I can see him vividly and hear his rendition of the Temptations’ song, Ain’t Too Proud to Beg, as though he were standing before me this very minute. I still smile every time I think of it.
I found my way to Emeril’s restaurant and was happily ensconced at the counter with all the other orphans—er, I mean single diners. I studied the menu and landed on the prix fixe menu of four courses with four wine pairings and then proceeded to study the chefs in their various toque blanches (white chef’s hats) of different heights indicating rank. As I watched the magic happen in the open kitchen, an image of the Bourbon Street serenader popped into my head. I know you’re gonna leave me… I was transported further back in time when I saw my first live concert in the college gym at Cortland State in 1964.
There I sat on the bleachers, just a few feet away from some group I had never heard of called The Temptations. My friends convinced me that the steep price of the ticket ($4.50) would be money well spent, they were that good. I was skeptical, but gave in to the peer pressure. As I sat on my hard bleacher seat in the darkened room, the stage lights came on and standing there holding a pose were five magnetic men dressed impeccably in sharkskin suits with their hands crossed behind their backs and their heads bowed.
The music started slowly with some bass notes and their feet started moving, doing simple choreographed steps so precisely I couldn’t take my eyes off them. When they began singing, I got sunshine on a cloudy day… To this day I never fail to choke up when I hear My Girl.
All these years later when Jane Pauly announced on her show, Sunday Morning, there was a new musical opening on Broadway in New York called Ain’t Too Proud based on the life and career of The Temptations, I was riveted to the television. I watched the entire segment, then ran to my laptop to order tickets for me and my dear friend, Marietta. She and I are attending the New York Writer’s Digest Conference in August and I made an executive decision to buy two tickets hoping she would be interested in going to the show. I could barely breathe when I went to Broadway.com and found two front row seats in my favorite spot, first mezzanine. Click! I bought the tickets! I printed them out and my beaming smile turned to stone when I realized I had clicked the wrong date. I was a week early—we wouldn’t even be there yet! I immediately contacted the ticket vendor even though they made a clear statement on their website that tickets were not refundable.
It was a Sunday to boot. I didn’t expect a response until Monday. I figured I could sell the tickets for face value and perhaps have to take a loss for the steep service fee. In light of my austerity program, I had no business buying the tickets in the first place. That little devil on my shoulder made me do it. You know, the one that says, “You only live once. Go ahead. You can make up for it later.”
When the email arrived a mere ten minutes later saying the company was issuing me a full refund I did the happy dance. They refunded me so I could repurchase the tickets for the correct date. Down, devil, down! No, I will not be buying new tickets. I must resist the Temptations, front row mezz or no.
Several weeks went by. I’ve been working every cash job that comes my way—dog walks, airport runs, senior care, you name it. Yes, I’m still paying off that bad debt, but I am making progress due to my self-deprivation and resolve to knock it down.
And then I saw the Tonight Show, and Jimmy Fallon announced his special guests: Yup! The cast of Ain’t Too Proud who were getting ready for their Broadway opening the following night. After their performance, I walked zombie-like to my laptop. I would leave it to fate. If the good seats were still available, it was meant to be. Front row mezz was gone, but wait! second-row orchestra? For the same price? Sold!
On Saturday, August 31, in New York City, there will be two ladies, both from Brooklyn, New York, both writers, both lived in Costa Rica (one still does), both smiling and swaying to the beat of the Temptations. I can’t wait to see their moves, especially the part where one of them throws the microphone up in the air, spins, drops to his knees, and catches it all while never missing a note of Ain’t Too Proud to Beg.
Sometimes ya just can’t resist the Temptations! Can hardly wait.