Clementines and Circus Rides
by Anthony Vasko
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They played together in a traveling one woman and one man band. It was his dream, but she had the talent. His guitar was okay; her voice was angelic.
She never knew of her talent until meeting him. She was raised in a traditional, by-the-books family. She was raised to speak when spoken to, use the salad fork during salad, and the dinner fork for dinner, while ‘elevator’ music softly echoed off of the velvet walls.
He was raised to run around on bare feet, chase chickens, and pluck the feathers before it was sliced open, gutted and cooked in the kettle pot along with the vegetables. When dinner was over, and the dishes were washed, he could pick up the banjo and play his heart away.
She was destined to meet and marry a man of high class and social distinction. The families would unite, and the heavens would sing.
He was destined to marry one of the down-south country girls he had been around since birth. They would inherit the humble family farm, and do exactly as the generation before them had done—work and raise a family.
They met by pure coincidence, or Intervention by a Higher Power…it’s up to you to decide.
She was in town, like every summer, to enjoy the sun and beach.
He was in town to bring fresh Clementines for the rich folk to enjoy with their early afternoon brunch, as well as their poolside cocktails at night.
She was passing by the grocery on her way to an afternoon social with the other debutantes, and he was moving crates of produce off of the old pickup to a dully.
They exchanged glances first. And then a moment later, they exchanged smiles. Sometimes that’s all it takes for a couple of seventeen-year-olds on a hot summer day.
She was staying in a twenty-two-room mansion; he was staying in a room that often felt like it was shared with twenty-two other men.
She knew his class, and he knew her class, but neither cared.
She wasn’t supposed to venture out to the southern end of the beach; that’s where the summer work bums hung out.
He wasn’t supposed to venture out to the north end of the beach; he would stick out like a sore thumb.
As she walked south, he walked north. Under a hot July sun they met halfway. The rest is pretty much history.
She fell in love with him, and he fell in love with her. She discovered his simple, warm-hearted southern charm; he discovered a young lady whose talents needed to be experienced by the entire world.
In a moment, hotter than a pepper sprout, they hopped in his old truck and drove to Gatlinburg to elope.
She was certain her family would never talk to her again.
He was certain his family would greatly miss his help on the farm.
But what could they do, they were young and in love, living on a dream.
When it came to hit the road for a tour of one-night singing stands, with suitcases in hand, they still needed a name for the band. That’s when she hollered out, “How ‘bout Circus Rides?” It sounded good enough to him, so they went with it.
The old truck broke down several times on the first three legs of the tour. Luckily, it was warm enough to sleep next to one another in the bed, under a cover of stars. They put the money for lodging towards the flat tire, water pump, and oil change.
Through each setback they grew closer; they grew stronger.
Then came the fateful night, which would test their love forever. After nearly three hours of cover songs and original material, they were approached by an executive from the record industry.
He said that he loved what he heard and saw. But he was only talking about her.
Without a single thought she said, “No thank you. I’d rather stand by my man.”
And so Clementines and Circus Rides finished its first and only tour before returning to the old farm to work all day, raise a family, and play sweet music when the Good Lord allowed it.
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