(Author’s Note: This song has been sticking around in my head for the last 5 days. It’s an earworm of a song, one that I head first when I was a little guy riding my bike around my neighborhood in Minnesota. And as a bonus, the band is from my adopted hometown of Portland, Oregon. So I hope you enjoy “Harden My Heart”. )
Yeardley’s Club was a place for lovers to visit, to eat, and to spend time with their mates. The owner, Bill Yeardley, had a habit of saying that Yeardley’s “is the place where parents can be married again.” Night after night, the main dining room would be packed with the soft sounds of dinner being served, the light sounds of a jazz piano or jazz ensemble playing in the background while parents relaxed. No expense was spared when giving the parents a time to rest.
There were some nights when it was tense, with some parents that didn’t end up relaxing all that much and ended up in an escalating argument. For those times, Yeardley himself came out to the table and helped get them to a private table in a soundproof room where they could mediate their issues and still enjoy dinner. The atmosphere was still the same in these rooms, with microphones around the restaurant piping in the sound.
Most nights, however, were a delight for Yeardley and his staff of 25. They did all that they could do to make the patron’s experiences enjoyable. Not only would this get them to come back again, but it would continue to set their reputation as “the place to get away from the kids”.
This night, Yeardley sat back in a chair in a hidden area overlooking the restaurant floor. He would be able to see if there were any issues, and still enjoy his time. Since the staff were pretty well policed, he didn’t have to worry about major problems. About an hour into the Friday dinner “rush”, he decided to take a walk around the floor.
He walked around the tables, stopping every so often just to make sure that things were alright, and quickly moved on. As he was about to finish his walkaround, he heard the sounds of what appeared to be a couple in distress. He looked around and spotted the table. The closest waiter to him was summoned, and briefed him on what was going on.
“Alfonse, what’s going on at Table 15?”
“Looks like marital problem. I think it’s an affair from what I am understanding.”
“Get the special wine, do NOT charge them for it, and ready “the crystal”. I’ll go over and do the recon and see if we have to deploy.”
Alfonse did so, and Yeardley went over to the table to get more information.
“Good evening. I’m Bill Yeardley, the owner of the restaurant. Is everything going okay for you tonight?”
The young mother looked at him with a look of disgust on her face.
“We came out here to have a night away from the kids, and he decided to tell me he’s found someone new.”
The young father grumbled. Yeardley turned and looked at him with the usual kind eyes.
“Is that so?”
“It’s not that I found someone new, it’s that I’ve been contemplating it because we aren’t in love anymore.”
Yeardley chuckled at this. The young man did not look amused at the chuckling.
“My dear young man, one of the things to remember is that love isn’t a fleeting feeling. Sure, there’s the feeling of eros; the type of love that makes you all gooey inside and makes you put the wrong key in your door. That’s a form of love. But those who are married, and who have kids, it’s more than just that emotional and primal state of love.”
The young man just huffed at this notion, as Yeardley turned his eyes to the young woman.
“My dear lady, let me ask something. When you are at home because of the kids, and your husband walks through the door, what do you ask him first?”
She thought for a moment, and replied, “Can you help me with dinner?”
Yeardley looked at both of them, with a small bit of shock on his face at the obliviousness of the couple, and promptly snapped his fingers. Within seconds, Alfonse and two of the other waiters were at his hand.
“Deploy “the crystal”, Alfonse.”
“Right away, sir.”
Yeardley looked down at the couple, as Alfonse approached the stage.
“I want you to listen to the song that will be played first. Take the lyrics and apply it. I think you’ll understand things.”
Alfonse went up onto the stage, and smiled at everyone.
“If I may have your attention please! There are some points in time where live music is going to be necessary for increased ambiance. Sometimes, it is also for people to listen to something that may give them aid in issues that they may have. In these times, that is when we bring on a few of our better players to join in and play something for a certain couple who may need a little more assistance. For that, we bring on our resident jazz siren. Please welcome, Sugar Ruby!”
The applause from the people was strong, yet respectful as Sugar Ruby, the jazz/standards singer for the house, walked onto stage. With a count of four, her and the house band started into a nearly note for note rendition of Crystal Gayle’s 1978 classic “Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue”.
As the couple listened to the song, the young man looked at his wife and sighed. He shook his head at himself, and he reached over to hold his wife’s hand. The wife looked at him and bowed his head slightly as she covered his hand with her other one.
Yeardley looked down at the couple again, and gave a satisfied smile. He waited back a ways from the table while they enjoyed the music.
After the song was complete, a couple of minutes of just plain, soft, piano music played as Ruby got herself some water.
Yeardley slid back over to the table and looked down.
“My good man, your wife loves you. Sometimes it may seem like there’s a lot to bear, being the man of the house. But remember something, she’s the one you’re supposed to protect. She’s your life. She isn’t disposable, and she loves you dearly. Try to work with her on things, and see how things can go.”
He looked back at the young woman.
“For you, young lady, the biggest thing that you can do for your husband when he comes home is to give him a kiss. It’s a small thing, and it may take two seconds, but instead of giving him a command that may turn him off, it’ll ignite his fire and maybe want to help you with cooking dinner.”
They both nodded at this.
“Your dinner for tonight is on the house. Stay as long as you like, order up a slice of “two-person cheesecake”. But promise me that when you get home, you’ll spend more time with each other.”
“We promise,” they said, in unison. They giggled as they looked at each other.
“And have a good night,” Yeardley finally said, completing his job for that time. As he walked from the table towards the kitchen, he looked at Alfonse, who was grinning from ear to ear at what he had seen.
“Al, this is what Yeardley’s is all about. Making sure that parents have a chance to get together, work whatever issues they have out, and to enjoy themselves while doing it. If I ever retire, I want you to remember that.”
“No chance I’ll forget, sir,” Alfonse replied, with a smile and a salute.
Yeardley laughed at the awkward pose, as he swung through the kitchen doors.