A few weeks ago, A. and I had a rare dinner alone in Ridgecrest. OK, so it wasn’t alone, CP was with us, but he was still only nursing and would sit in his carseat, watchfully and quietly. We ate at Charlie’s, a bar restaurant with very little ambience — five or six TVs with sports programs, a pool table, high ceilings, cushy chairs on wheels and older patrons. One entire wall was a mirror, and we sat next to it.
An elderly couple came in and sat down across from us. And the woman kept looking over and smiling at CP, who A. was holding up on the table on his wobbly legs, his feet turned inward, his eyes focused on his image in the mirror. I finally smiled back at the woman, and she asked, “How old?” She was in her 70s at least, with curly gray hair and round glasses. Her husband had a hearing aide.
A. wheeled his chair over to their table, with CP on his lap, and they both lit up. It turns out, they were from Albuquerque, N.M., where we think we’d like to move next. And they have several grandchildren.
“Do you have a CD player in your car?” the woman asked us.
Confused, I said yes.
“Our daughter is a children’s singer,” she says. “She sings lullabies that will put your baby to sleep.”
They were on their way to Yosemite, so they were staying in the hotel where the restaurant is.
“Go get some of them,” the woman said to her husband, kindly.
He nodded, and a bit later, he returned with four wrapped albums and an article about their daughter, Susie Tallman, published in the Albuquerque Magazine.
We put the CDs in the diaper bag and thanked them.
On the way home, I popped one in the player, and the first song — Six Little Ducks — was catchy.
Since, we’ve been listening to them — a song here, a song there. The lullabies do not put CP to sleep, as the woman guaranteed they would (in fact, I don’t care for them), but we have found a few songs that move us to our feet, including Five Little Speckled Frogs. The song has gone into our regular rotation, along with songs by the Laurie Berkner Band, Raffi, Elizabeth Mitchell and another new discovery: Johnny Bregar.
Now, every once in a while, CM (who will be three in December) will ask: “Can we listen to Five Speckled Fwogs?”
We turn on our stereo in the living room and act out the song — pretending to sit on a log and shovel delicious flies in our mouths. The joy on CM’s face makes me smile — it’s ridiculously cute. And every time we do it, I think of that couple, who are so proud of their daughter. And I can’t help but think that maybe we’ll see them again, someday.