The Stars, the Moon, a Trombone and You by Dave Henson

Monday, June 14, 2021
Edward's romantic destiny depends on his congenital "call" in Dave Henson's surprisingly profound comedy.

I signed into Here My Call before going to work. Don't know why I bothered. I never had any notifications. Who would respond to a call like mine? But this time was different. "I see starshine in your eyes," the message said. "Meet for coffee?"

I could hardly type "yes" fast enough, and we made arrangements to get together Saturday morning at a local cafe.

Lydia Anne and I recognized each other immediately from our photos on the site. She was tall and slender, and I... wasn't.

As we sipped our coffees, I realized I'd never met anyone so easy to talk to. She told me how she loved to exercise and eat healthy. I confessed my love for burgers and watching television. She loved to travel. I liked to cut the grass. She liked cats. I preferred dogs. Time flew by till Lydia Anne stood to go. It was the skyscraper moment, and I churned up my courage. "Do you want to get together again?" I said and crossed my fingers. "The stars, the moon, a trombone and you."

"I see starshine in your eyes," Lydia Anne replied. "Our calls are a pretty good match, Edward. I think we need to explore what they're trying to tell us."

Yes! Me too! Wonderful! "That sounds fine, Lydia Anne."

The two of us went to dinner the next Friday. She got a salad, and I had steak. The conversation this time was more personal.

I asked what her mother's call was.

"I think I know."

"You're not sure?"

"No, silly, that's Mom's call - I think I know."

"Oh," I said, then took a sip of wine, buying time to think of an intelligent response. I kept sipping and finally realized neither of us had spoken for about 200 years. "That's a pretty wide-open call," I said and immediately wondered if that sounded stupid. "I mean a generic call like that might cut both ways in finding someone compatible." Not much better. Keep moving. "What's your father's call?"

"Dad's is Whose woods these are."

"Wow," was all I could think say. I can be profound without breaking a sweat.

"See, Edward, if we're patient, we can all find our ideal call-mate."

I was hoping I already had.

"What was your mother's and father's calls?" Lydia Anne asked me.

"Mom's was Hot summer night thick with the clicking of crickets. Dad's was Field bright with fireflies."

Lydia Anne repeated my parents' calls, counting each syllable on her fingertips. "So you're a haiku baby!" she said finally.

I nodded.

"Then I wonder why... how..." She went quiet for a moment. I could tell she was trying to choose her words carefully. I wanted to give her a hand.

"How I ended up with such an absurd call? Believe me, I've asked myself a million times. A genetic quirk, I suppose." Too serious. "Maybe Robert Preston was a distant relative," I chuckled. Blank stare. Don't stop talking. "Well, no matter. We can't change the call we're born with, can we?" I shrugged.

"So true. But you do have the stars and moon in yours. That's lovely." Lydia Anne reached across the table and stroked the back of my hand with her thumb. I tingled all over.

During the next few months, Lydia Anne and I began intertwining our time more and more. I learned her great grandmother's call was Slowly I turn and her great grandfather's was Who's on first? "They were both vaudevillians, a wonderful match," Lydia Anne said. "They even got to meet Laurel and Hardy, the ones who did those comedy routines."

"Abbott and Costello," I said.

"What?"

"I think Abbott and Costello made those bits famous," I said and regretted it immediately when a frown chiseled Lydia Anne's face. The last thing I wanted was an argument. "Come to think, it was Laurel and Hardy," I said quickly, then recited my call.

My words had the desired effect. "I see starshine in your eyes," she smiled.

Things continued to progress... to the point I kept a toothbrush at Lydia Anne's place. I knew she was the one for me and planned a special evening at Loon Lake.

The lake is outside of town, away from light pollution. The moon was riding low, and the Milky Way was dazzling. I put down the top of the convertible, and we shimmered in starlight. Whenever Lydia Anna looked at me, I opened my eyes extra wide. We kissed like teenagers and whispered our calls to each other. In hindsight, I guess I did most of the kissing and whispering.

"I have a surprise," I said, reaching into the back seat where I'd put a bottle of champagne and two plastic flutes. I popped the cork, then the question, and reached into my pocket for the engagement ring I'd bought.

Lydia Anne didn't say anything at first. I knew that was a bad sign - Warning, dangerous road ahead. She said she needed time to think about it - Watch out for steep drop-offs. I dumped the champagne outside the car and slipped the ring back into my pocket. Then I drove Lydia Anne to her place and went home.

A few days later, she came over. She said she'd never forget our time together and she wanted us to always be friends - You have just driven off a cliff - but she didn't feel I was the person she should spend the rest of her life with.

"But... The stars, the moon, a trombone and you... my eyes... starshine," I said feebly, my heart crashing to the ground and bursting into flames.

Lydia Anne said the problem wasn't with my call, which was so unique, but with hers. Then she gave me a hug, kissed me on the cheek, and left.

After a few months I was still moping around and wearing my self-pity like a wool coat in summer. Then one day, I was picking up a few things at the market and who did I run into - Lydia Anne and her new guy. He looked some like me, but a little shorter and heavier. As she introduced the two of us, she giggled nervously. I used to think that was cute. Actually, I still did. She started going on about how they had met only a few weeks ago. I think she wanted me to know she hadn't been two-timing me. I never thought she had. Then she even told me his call - The galaxy in me, you. I believe she told me so I'd know she'd found her ideal call-mate, so I'd be happy for her. I was. I wished the two of them well, left my cart with ground beef, frozen pizzas, and chocolate cake in the aisle and went home.

I knew I had to move on and the next weekend decided to start looking for somebody new. I'd let my subscription to Here My Call lapse so I re-keyed my information on the website. When I got to the last field, I thought about making something up. But I knew I couldn't, that if I myself didn't accept my call no one else ever would. So I took a deep breath and typed slowly - "The Stars, the Moon, a Trombone and You - anyone?"

Months passed, and I'd given up on getting a response, on ever finding my call-mate. Then, one day while I was at work, my phone chimed a notification from Here My Call. A woman named Lucy was asking to meet me. Her call was Comets and Asteroids Orbit My Tuba. Maybe there was hope after all.

11 comments:

  1. Very clever and well written. Anima and Animus meet from Haiku mating calls...romance and rejection... finding proper love with the right syllables...and yeah that is correct it was Abbot and Costello he he.

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  2. Playful with sad undertones...Edward clearly has some struggles with his call. I enjoyed the subtle references (and suspect there were even more that went over my head). Leaves me wondering what my own call would be if I were born in Edward's world...

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  3. Quite good. No more crazy then some of the things we do to attract mates.

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  4. Kenneth SchalhoubJune 17, 2021 at 7:32 PM

    It felt like it could be an episode of "Black Mirror" TV show. Very interesting.

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  5. The references went over my head, but I didn’t care at all. In fact, I was enchanted. Playful yet sad, to paraphrase Ron above.

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  6. I enjoyed this fresh tune playing on the bittersweet notes of boy meets girl.

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