Do the Clothes Make the Man?

     Sitting at the Mission Ranch, enjoying the piano music, a glass of wine and the company of my sweetheart, I am relaxed, not realizing quite soon I will also be entertained.

    Mission Ranch is a unique restaurant and bar, aside from the world famous, Oscar winning, local girl marrying owner(Clint Eastwood), it’s the crowd that gathers there that makes it so special.

     There are all kinds of customers who belly up  to the bar, or relax at one of the coveted stools around the piano, and still more at cozy tables scattered about.

     There are couples, some long wed, some just married, why even over in the corner there, there is a young woman, with a very much older man, who amid flatter, suggestive looks and whispered innuendo, she also scans the room for another future lover if this one doesn’t work out.

     There are sometimes a weaving group of partiers from weddings, still in their monkey suits and fancy frocks, who after hours of fun decide they should ‘have just one more drink’.  Mingling among them are business men in suits looking lonely, and groups of women of ‘a certain age’, dolled up, mostly classy, in their silks and satins, looking even lonelier.

     On Friday and Saturday nights there is a different ripple to the crown, its Karaoke time!!

     A new piano player shows up, and suddenly there is a microphone. The sweet lady playing piano sings with a pleasant, lilting voice, unfortunately not all the customers do.

     You can almost tell who wants to sing.  They stare in rapt wonder at the mike, hands itching to hold it and reveal to the world the diva inside.  Few of them get up without first imbibing in liquid courage which doesn’t enhance their suspect talent.

     There is always one willing, as a tribute to the afor-mentioned movie-god owner, who just HAS to sing (drum roll please) Misty.  I often wonder if they secretly believe Clint is hiding nearby, ready to jump out, exclaim they an amazing talent and make them famous and rich beyond their wildest dreams.  Yeah.  Like that’s going to happen. 

For some who perform it is just for the joy of singing.  Others seem to feel validated by their song.  They ARE the singer their mother always told them they were!!  Even if the venue and the performance suggests otherwise.

    A man in a dark sweater and pants, almost suggesting the garb of a priest, shyly approaches the piano.  He’s got a shock of white air and he nervously runs his fingers through it as he requests his song.  I don’t know if its his clothes or his Irish good looks that  keep bringing me back to a man of the cloth, or maybe its that he sings like an angel.  He has a beautiful tenor ala’ Andrea Boccelli.

     As he’s singing another man walks in the front door and stops for a moment in the foyer, his reddish brown hair is curly and sticks out around his head like a laurel crown, as the top is quite sparse.  He’s wearing a brown polyester leisure suit with wide lapels. Swear to God.  (all right I am a clothes snob. Soooooorrrrrrrryyyyyyyyyyy)

    He peers in the small mirror on the wall, looking this way and that, patting the hair, smoothing the lapels, running his fingertips across his wiry mustache.  He gives himself the sly little smile that just screams, “Yeah baby, I look GOOD!’

   He saunters in the lounge, lizard cool.   He says, “ Hey darlin” in the direction of the piano player, but could easily encompass those around her, his future adoring fans.  Ambling along he finds a few cronies at the bar and gets a drink.  He leans against the bar and surveys the crowd. 

     The tenor priest has almost finished his song.  Not being professionally trained he does not realize the need to step away from the mike while singing his last powerful note.   My eardrums hurt a little but he undeniably has in incredible voice. 

     Leisure suit and friends , after the priest has passed them, make faces and shake their heads, his cronies patting him on the back like he , the crown prince, has just forced the usurper of the throne out of the castle.  They look mean and petty.  You can almost hear Leisure suit thinking-‘this is my place, you all came to see me.’

     He glides over the piano like some irresistible string is pulling him along.  The piano player looks a little nervous, her smile more forced, less sweet.  As leisure suit begins his rendition of Mac the Knife, it is quite apparent why.

     Think of every tacky, lounge singer you’ve ever heard.  Now think of every parody of one you’ve seen.  Times ten.  Getting the picture?  Leisure suit sings out, “When the shark bites-sa, with his teeth deee-ra, scarlet billows-sa, start to form-ma!”  He switches that microphone from hand to hand, swaying like he’s old blue eyes himself.  Frank he aint.  Not even Frank Jr.  You can tell he thinks he’s sexy, so I wonder if the suit is an attempt perhaps at retro cool??

    No , his suit is as bad as his singing but thankfully, mercifully, his song is over.  He thanks the audience for their kind applause, nodding his head and kissing his fingertips out to the crowd.

   As leisure suit drinks, his songs get even worse, but the crowd applauds even louder, not because he is great, but because he is so damn bad, he’s funny!!!!!   He drinks in the clapping, lapping up the adulation that he knows is his due.

   There is now a rule at Mission Ranch for a 3 song maximum per patron.  I guess someone (hmmm….) has been hogging the mike like they’d gotten a paying gig.

     Do the clothes make the man?  Sometimes they do.

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