The first time I met Miss Joanne was in Panama City, Florida. I can’t remember how long ago it was. But I had younger skin back then, I remember that much.
She was dancing, I also remember that.
She was an old woman. Big grin on her face. Her dance was a cross between the Mashed Potato and a U.S. Army infantry march. It was precious.
About me: I have been playing music for money since I was a teenager. I wasn’t particularly good. But I was a local, and those were all the qualifications a boy needed. I played restaurants, pool halls, beer joints, churches, and on one occasion, a car dealership.
In my daytime hours, I would work labor jobs—laying tile, hanging sheetrock, installing bathrooms. But during evenings, I would travel wherever music called.
And one night, somewhere in my twenties, I was playing in Panama City. It was late. Elderly Miss Joanne was there. She approached the stage. She handed me a cocktail napkin
with handwriting on it:
It read: “Will you play ‘You Are My Sunshine?’”
The band played. She swayed to the music and sang aloud. Eyes closed. It made me smile to see a woman her age so in love with music.
On our break, she hugged my neck. She bought me a beer and sat beside me. We talked. Then, she asked me if I wanted to dance.
“Me?” I said.
“Yes, you,” she said. “I may be old, but I can dance like a teenager.”
We never danced, because I don’t dance. But I wish I would have now.
Throughout the years, I saw her a lot. She wore a sparkling clothes she’d decorated herself—adorned in sequins. She had a shock of white hair and wrinkled skin. And she always carried one cigarette in a miniature sleeve, hanging by a string around…