Easy to Love
My friends invited me out to a new bar with a hip name and as I came to find, an ambiance that made space for magic—not only due to soft mood lighting but also a charming half-emptiness that enabled quiet conversation. Perhaps because Thursday, or word-of-mouth is still making its slow way.
I spotted my friends having a drink in the corner by the bar. Peyton and Zach across from each other and Chandler at Peyton’s left shoulder, with his legs crossed under the table with confident grace.
Zach, still sitting, pulled out my chair as casually as ever and then slid it toward the table as I sat. An Alabama thing? I Wondered, appreciating this well-mannered rarity but not wanting to spoil it with a remark.
I was 45 minutes late and they were all drinking a cocktail with a name like Mountain Breeze. Chandler offered me a sip, sure that I would join the bandwagon. He was right. The zest from a fresh lemon rind greeted my nose while the bright whiskey drink went down sweet and refreshing.
I ordered the Mountain Something from the bartender, Miles. A brunette in his late 20s I’d imagine, Miles grew up in Portland. He took his time concocting the drink, ending the ritual by slicing the thick lemon peel that pulled it all together.
Within about 30 minutes I became especially aware of the music, which is best described as an aggressive blanket of noise going for experimental rock, maybe. At a loud dive bar on another night I might have endured it happily, but tonight I was feeling romantic. I wanted to hear something slow and moody. While Zach was mid-story I excused myself and headed to the bar to ask Miles if he was open to play a song of my choosing—if it wasn’t too rude to ask. And bless his heart, for he obliged me.
“Sure,” he said. “As long as you don’t tell me to turn the music down.”
“No way,” I said, and requested Ella Fitzgerald’s “Easy to Love.”
I watched Miles search for the title on his iPod while I returned to my seat. He waited for the current song to end while my body filled with the glorious anticipation of the intro and the hope that he’d indeed chosen the right song.
Jazzy piano began to play—a solace from the noise—and my companions all paused for a moment as the room became cozy.
I know too well that I’m just wasting precious time… Ella sang.
Her voice washed over me like medicine.
And thinkin’ such a thing could be, that you could ever care for me…
I glanced behind the bar to Miles, who smiled wide and gave me a thumbs-up.
Chandler continued a story of his time in the mountains, eyes blinking sweetly beneath the brim of his hat. I listened as closely as a woman can while she’s hoping for the offer of a slow dance.