Hanging Out In Rockford: Legends of Jazz pizzazz

Sunday comes, and Molly is a no show. Oh, well, I must have suspected it beforehand because I asked Elisha if she would cover me, and being my good friend, she said she would. So after I get off the phone with Molly, I call Elisha. She says to give her about half an hour to get ready. When I pick her up, I can’t help but remark about how good she looks. She is a really beautiful woman.

We are both hungry, and I suggest going to the Vietnamese restaurant (Hai Quinh) on Seventh Street. That’s OK with her, so we head down First Avenue. But then I say maybe we should go to The Great Wall because we can have a drink. Drinks were hard to get the last time I went to the Legends of Jazz at the Tebala Shrine. She immediately agrees. I pass up Charles Street and head for East State.

At The Great Wall, we sit at the bar and Katsui waits on us. I have a martini (a real martini, not some crap in a cocktail glass that someone calls a martini because they are stupid). Elisha has a Zombie. We’re both hungry, so we order some soup. Elisha has the won ton, I have the hot and sour. Katsui automatically brings me the chili paste and the vinegar. Then we don’t know what to do, so we are asking Katsui what her favorite thing is, but she isn’t saying. I want shrimp, and I suggest garlic shrimp. I think that we don’t want to be too full, so we should only order one entree and split. Elisha agrees. We finally settle on some garlic shrimp and some soft noodles. We are both thrilled by the food when it comes (in about 30 seconds, standard for Great Wall).

On the way out Charles Street, I get a phone call and line up a date (yes, a real date) for Thursday night. This hasn’t happened in quite some time. (Probably she’ll call at the last minute and bail on me; it seems to be par for the course.) Elisha is happy for me. And then we are at the Legends of Jazz. Elisha looks around the room and remarks that she is the youngest person there. I look around hoping to prove her wrong, but I cannot. It is a veritable sea of silver and blue. There is one 10-year old, probably someone’s grandchild, and then there is Elisha, and then there are the rest of us. I’m really styling being the only man there with a hot young chick.

We miss the first band, Bill Engeberg with Harriet Ford, but get there just in time for the second, Cary Shelly/Ken Stein Little Big Band, and they are really good. A nice-looking black couple are the only people on the dance floor, and boy, are they good. We meet them later, and he turns out to be a dance instructor. Elisha wants to dance, and I am not normally the dancing type so I convince the tall, handsome dance instructor (Kenneth, but we lost his card) to ask her. She resists momentarily, but then gives in. Later, she suggests we might take dance lessons together. Never say never.

Val DeCastris and her husband, Dave, are sitting at the table just ahead of us. We laughingly call him Mister DeCastris. That’s OK, he takes it pretty well. Then Frank Schier joins us at our table. I keep making trips to the cocktail bar. Drinks aren’t so hard to get this time. I get to know the bartender, Andrea, by name. Of course, we see Bill and Karen. Bill is, as usual, set up to video the entire event.

The third band is the Moonlight Jazz Orchestra. By this time, I have made the short trip to the cocktail bar more than a few times, and Elisha is able to convince me to go on to the dance floor. Wonders never cease. I manage to stumble my way through a couple numbers. And then, way too soon it’s over. Elisha introduces me to her friend, Steve Wilson who plays in the band. She tells him that she can get him into my column. We find our way to the Villager and then back to the Irish Rose, but not before stopping at Cinema Centre Video to pick up a movie Elisha wants to see. We wind up at Elisha’s with Summer and Mandy, ostensibly to watch the video, but I am an old man and a short timer. I unwisely get in my van and head for home.

I awake the next morning with one sock still on. I find a 5-pound bag of Scott Peterson Polish Sausage and two Snickers bars sitting on my kitchen counter. The counter is covered with breadcrumbs. One sausage is missing from the package. I feel terrible. I eat one of the Snickers bars. Oh, well, I haven’t done this for a long time and probably won’t do it again for a long time. My friend, Paul Larson, used to say it is poor man’s electroshock therapy. Sometimes you just got to ring all your bells and blow all your whistles.

Summer calls me up just to check on me. I tell her how terrible I feel. She says that I can’t blame any part of this on her.

Mike Leifheit’s “Hanging Out In Rockford” reviews locally-owned restaurants, businesses and Rockford life. These columns are available on his Web site, IrishRoseRockford.com, and featured on WNTA talk radio AM 1330. Leifheit is owner of the Irish Rose restaurant in the downtown River District.

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