Monthly Archives: September 2011

Wednesdays (at the Brink)

Wednesday used to mean so much in Madison, but here it’s just another day.
Wednesday mornings, Bus Number 4 would be diverted
around Martin Luther King Street to make way
for the mini Farmer’s market.  Only half-way through the week,
here was this tasty reminder of the Saturday organic bliss to come.
If I was ambitious, I could get off the bus, buy some fruit,
and eat it while walking to the opposite end of the Square to work.

In the summers, Wednesdays meant Concerts on the Square.
The well-to-do would lay their blankets hours in advance.
Everything was customized for the picnic and orchestral experience.
Low-legged lawn chairs.  Stakes perched elegantly into the ground
to support fluted wine glasses. Coolers and baskets overflowing
in a sophisticate’s interpretation of a tailgate party.
The Chamber Orchestra would play. We would lie on our backs,
with friends, looking at the cutouts of sky between the tree branches;
the white dome of the Capitol, the perfect visual and acoustic backdrop.
I would always look for runaway balloons, disappearing into the pink-streaked sky.

The twilight hours of that final August were spent on the Terrace
or at Brocach’s with the Sailing Club.  Ever capricious, the Club met Wednesdays
for a while, then switched to Thursdays or perhaps vise versa.
But there was always room on a Wednesday for wings and beer
and good conversations with classmates about Harold Bloom and Vampires.

Wednesday nights, of course, were for swing dancing at the Brink.
You always had to walk past the house band or the Open Mic.
You might stop at the bar, or save that trip for later.  I used to get
Sprecher’s rootbeer or Boylan Ginger Ale midway through the night.

The back room, the lounge, was ours. Property of the lindyhoppers
(and occasionally a speed-dating club that preceded us.)
I’d say hello, pick a table and a chair. First things first: remove your shoes.
Sometimes I had sneakers. Sometimes I had thick winter boots.  Once, walking
there past Lake Monona, I was accosted by a sudden thundershower
and my leather boots soaked through, until my jeans were wet up to the knee.
But I always had an extra pair of socks.  I’d put my swing shoes on.  I’d say hello.

Usually I’d dance right away.  Sometimes I would mingle first.
The music was good some weeks, bad other weeks.
But it was always Wednesday.
There was an obstacle in the middle of the dance floor.  A rectangular
support beam holding up the entire place, for all we knew.  Skilled dancers
dodged it like it wasn’t there. Clever dancers incorporated it into their moves
like a prop or a third partner.

The dancing seemed to me inseparable from the talking.
The tables and chairs lead to the dance floor; the dance floor lead back
to the tables and chairs. Sometimes we’d be in for a treat: fancy lighting,
little tea candles, fresh tablecloths.  We knew there’d been a wedding.
Occasionally, I’d arrive at the Brink for an even bigger treat: live music.
Miss Tess and the Bon Ton Parade strumming on a silver guitar
the sounds of New Orleans hot jazz.  I dragged myself to the Brink
in the snow and rain and during Finals, but once I arrived, I never regretted going.

I always told my boss the only night I couldn’t work was Wednesday.
Now Wednesday is my latest night.
No farmer’s market. No concerts. No dancing.
Poor middle child of the week!
I do not think anyone ever wrote a song about Wednesday.
But part of me is always excited when Wednesday comes
as if my feet can’t quite forget the patterns of another life.

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