Everyone has a story.  Some are tragic, some are comic – most are some combination thereof.  As many stories as there are faces in a shopping mall, bodies in a bank queue, bellies up to a bar.

During my 10-day winter sojourn, i find myself among some delightful representatives of humanity.  First and foremost?  My hosts – inspirations to me on many levels.  Welcomed to their home, where i have been invited to partake of their hospitality, food, wine – and more importantly, friends.

Over a couple of bottles of Coors Light in a dive bar, buried in a valley in the heart of Mormon country, i spent some time with a woman that i’ve known for fifteen minutes, and simultaneously all of my life. 

She grew up in my neck of the woods, and we shared a frightening amount of common ground – despite being separated in age by a little more than a decade.  As we poked through beer and “Fry Sauce”, we talked about living life aggressively…

i mentioned my pending ‘motorcycle’ certification class, and she wandered through tales of her days with a bike.  And why she gave it up… And as the beer and conversation flowed freely, she mentioned a particularly harrowing journey across a large body of water on an open-grid bridge…

“Singing Bridge”. 

i haven’t heard this phrase for years, but with it came a flood of childhood memories.  Certain bridges were dubbed “singing” because the simple act of rolling an automobile across created audible vibrations – and the pitch could be varied via accelerator!

What sheer joy, when i was a little critter, to ride with the entire clan crammed into the Ford Falcon station wagon across a singing bridge!  Dad was masterful, playing the tones carefully, running scales, and certainly pissing off the guy behind him trying to get to the horse track before the windows closed…

A few more beers, and many laughs later, we called it a night.  It occurs to me that there can be artistry in the most mundane aspects of life.  Be it driving a car across a span of metal and cable, or taking the time to mine for the story of another human being…

Sing it, sister...

19 thoughts on “Singing

  1. (i somehow missed the first line of yesterday’s post…)

    now you’re in SLC (airport code).

    i remember seeing a short film or maybe it was on the “sunday morning” show about singing bridges. or maybe it was a dream (movie quote) but i digress, it’s true, sometimes it seems as if we’ve known someone forever and after the last story is told will probably never see again. the best part, i like to think, is that we’ll both have that shared memory of a totally fascinating night!


  2. In most human interactions, people don’t really listen. They are simply waiting for their turn to talk. (I heard or read that somewhere, btw, it’s not mine.)

    It’s a step forward in the quality of relating when you actually do listen, isn’t it?

  3. i remember just such a bridge growing up. it crossed the river on the way to church (when i wasn’t a heathen) and sang when we sped up and slowed down. or, just the monotone if dad wasn’t feeling adventurous with the accelerator pedal.

    sounds as if you connected with this lady.

  4. savannah – in the area near SLC. beautiful here – and the people i’ve met have been delightful. as you say, will likely never see most of them again. but i’m better for it…

    jimmy – there’s a lot more to come. but i’m still on vacation… it’s going to take me awhile to get out the gnarliest bits…

    rob – exactly. being an active part of a ‘carefully listened’ conversation – where both parties are tracking – amazing experience. not to say there weren’t moments of ‘potty humor’ side track, and ‘political joke in poor taste’ thrown in for giggles!

    gnu – those are the bridges. i just love the phrase ‘singing bridge’. as if all inanimate objects have voice…

  5. I’m with Rob. And you. And I find that as I get, umm, more experienced, I have less patience with people who want to engage in conversation but not listen. I rarely learn anything by talking.

  6. stephanie – very big smile!

    chris – i am also spending less time with the ‘gum flappers’… if i’ve spent some time asking questions, ‘mining the story’, and the other person hasn’t once engaged to mine my story, or explore cross-connections, or ask a few questions? poof. on to the next human…

    nursemyra – there are apparently a few in Sydney (i had to google it to find them). i’m just gonna have to come visit you, aren’t i?

  7. Having never heard of the term “singing bridge”, I would have childishly told my barstool friend “I am old enough to know that gullible is not in the dictionary.”

    Amazing. A singing bridge. Using the car to harmonize (carmonize?)

  8. Sometimes it’s the only reason i leave the house, to get people to tell me their stories, sometimes i just eavesdrop and there’s no place like dive bars when it comes to that.

  9. dave – it’s not really singing, more like whining in a musical manner. but it’s endless fun when you’re 8 years old. or 47….

    hereinfranklin – didn’t expect to find such fun dives in Utah, but wow! More than one fabulously ‘hole in the wall’ locale. Even did “taco night” at the American Legion hall!

    kono – why i’ll not become a recluse. i genuinely like people. well, most of them. and the douchebags? i like to poke at them a little…

  10. @rassles – after our first conversation? she is DEFINITELY no longer a stranger… bonded. may never see her again, but sometimes that’s how it works out… wish she could be my sister-wife. that’d be cool. maybe i can make her my utah-sister-wife or something.

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