I was 21 or 22, out with my older, more respectable boyfriend at a place called Poor David’s Pub. We were there to see a singer/songwriter (and one of the most entertaining entertainers I’ve ever seen) named David Lutken (no relation to Poor David). Lutken packed the house once a week and played the Hell out of his guitar while he sang everything from blues standards to pop hits to original songs, cracking jokes along the way. By the end of the night his fingers were usually bloody, and his audience reluctant to leave.
On this particular night my date and I were sitting at a table just in front of the stage. I was a bit drunk, and therefore uncharacteristically extroverted. And I was full of energy. Lutken began to play one of his favorites, Rocky Top, and I was suddenly possessed by the need to dance. My fuddy-duddy of a boyfriend declined, but had no objection to my finding another dance partner. I don’t recall how many men I had to approach, but one said yes.
I should mention that there was no dance floor. There was nothing remotely like a dance floor. There was a narrow aisle between the two rows of tables, that widened next to the stage by virtue of the fact that two chairs had been borrowed from the front row for use elsewhere. This is where we danced.
I wore a clingy blue dress, with a skirt that flared perfectly with the slightest provocation, and high heels that were not designed for dancing, but were perfect for dancing because they practically threw me into my partner’s arms with every step. I don’t know how to dance, but I know how to follow a lead, and this guy knew how to lead. He had that special knack for turning my every misstep into something graceful, without even taking the credit he deserved. Lutken played what must have been the longest version of Rocky Top ever, the crowd clapped along while we twirled around on our tiny dance floor. It was magical.
I sat back down with my date. I can’t recall his reaction, but that’s not important. Some time later my dance partner left with his friends, and as he walked by he leaned over to say something polite. I didn’t notice for a few minutes, but he also dropped a folded piece of paper in my lap, and when I opened it later I found that it was a short, but charming, thank you note, with his name and phone number.
I never called. I never saw him again. I can’t say that I really regret not calling… not really. But I’ve always wondered how one phone call would have changed my life. And I can never hear Rocky Top without thinking of my one perfect dance with my perfect dance partner.