But she smiled at me so sadly
That my anger straightway died
If music be the food of love
Then laughter is its queen
And likewise if behind is in front
Then dirt in truth is clean.
–Whiter Shade of Pale
The Black Cat was a dark coffee shop a lot of the Northland College kids gathered at. Hippies and environmentalists, writers and musicians. I was sixteen in my hemp mushroom jewelry and bell-bottoms. Sunday afternoon late afternoon sun streaked through the open French doors and lit up the wood planks. I was sitting on a couch reading when a Veteran in his seventies kindly came over to me and struck up a conversation.
“Do you know Procol Harum’s ‘A Whiter Shade of Pale?’?”
“Yes,” I said smiling, looking at his green uniform and stars and badges.
“Come here then, girl.”
And he walked over to the old piano by the doors. I sat next to him on the bench and he began playing and singing the song.
A warm July breeze moved my white sleeves, my blond hair, my summer-kissed skin.