Scenes from My Memoir: Part-Time Lovers

June 17, 2012 — 6 Comments

This post is part of an on-going series where I tell random stories from my life. Names are changed to protect the innocent, unless given direct permission to publish.

Two of my summers in college, I spent six weeks in England (that’s twelve weeks over two summers, if you’re counting). I traveled with a group of students and an older couple as sponsors to three different cities, where we performed at schools, town squares, and other community places in order to get a name out for the local churches. We worked most of the week and then had a couple of free days. Two of our free days involved London. We traveled there by train, and we could spend the day doing whatever we wanted.

On free days, I usually hung out with my friend Andy, mainly because Andy and I could sit on a park bench anywhere on earth, do nothing but watch people, and laugh hysterically for hours. Andy is super smart and hilarious, a color commentator for all of life’s happenings if you will. And I’m an easy laugh. Seriously, it’s one of my best qualities. I laugh at everything. He used to play this game where he would rapid rapid fire a list of words to see how soon I would start laughing.

One particular afternoon in London, Andy (a fellow English major) and I spent time at Shakespeare’s Globe, ate lunch near Trafalgar Square where we chased the pigeons, touched all the graves of famous poets buried at Westminster Abbey, and read John Donne poems on the steps of St. Paul’s. You know, book nerd stuff.

photo

In this photo: Not me. Not Andy. Not Charles Dickens.
photo via flickr

Then, we decided we wanted to see Charles Dickens’s house. It was out away from everything. We walked forever, thinking, “Wow, OK, maybe we didn’t like Great Expectations all that much.” We finally arrived at Dickens’s house, and, of course, it was closed for renovations or just closed for the day. I really can’t remember. We were bummed.

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Important image for the story.

So we ceremoniously touched the doorknob of Charles Dickens’s house, and headed for the nearest entrance to the Underground, our favorite method of travel because the announcers said things like, “Mind the Gap” (which to obnoxious American tourists like us, sounded hilarious.)

I might also mention that Andy wore a neon yellow shirt and carried a backpack that could store Charles Dickens. No kidding. The top of this thing reached almost above his head and the bottom of it hung below his knees. Ginormous. I frequently sang the yodeling song from that mountain climbing game on the The Price is Right, just because I’m a good friend.

Right, so Charles Dickens wasn’t at home (and we didn’t stuff him in Andy’s backpack.), and we headed back to the Underground. As we snaked our way through the after work crowd, very touristy-looking amongst the black & gray of the office world, we heard a faint tinkling sound. I asked, “Is that a tambourine?” Andy replied, “I think it is.” We kept walking. In time with the tambourine though, we heard a trumpet start playing a jumpy melody. I said, “Is that a trumpet, too?” He nodded .

After about a minute, Andy added, “I think that’s ‘Part-Time Lovers.’”

I replied, “Like Stevie Wonder’s ‘Part-Time Lovers’?”

It totally was.

We chuckled a little about that and kept walking. As we reached the mouth of the Underground to board our train, we saw “the band” at the bottom of the escalators, a crowd of commuters walking around them.

Two men played a trumpet and a tambourine.

They played “Part Time Lovers.”

In cat suits.

Like Andrew Lloyd Webber, Magical Mr. Mistoffelees Cat Suits.

Yep. Cat suits.

As in, “Hey Nigel, it’s about that time, do you want to head to the Tube today?”

“Well, I can’t really play anything. I only have this tambourine.”

“That’s OK. The only song I can play on this trumpet is ‘Part-Time Lovers.’”

“Should we change out of our cat suits?”

“Nah.”

Although we didn’t get to see the Charles Dickens house that day, I like to picture Dickens himself smiling and tapping his feet with the two gentlemen we saw on the Underground. They would have felt right at home in the pages of one of his novels.

Kelly Wiggains

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Kelly Wiggains, a high school English teacher turned homeschooling mom, likes to surround herself with good literature, beautiful things, and big ideas, and she wants her home to reflect those things, too. Here at KellyWiggains.com she talks about everything From Literature to Living.
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  • http://twitter.com/quirkybookworm Jessica Howard (@quirkybookworm)

    How lovely! I spent several very similar summers in England in college. Good memories. :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/coolhandandrew Andy Dunham

    Good times. A great summer with one of my favorite people. That was also the summer after Kelly started dating Tyler, so I got to hear a lot of stories about Tyler’s dreamy eyes and how he healed lepers and turned water to wine and whatnot :).

  • http://kellywiggains.wordpress.com kellywiggains

    You know, Andy. I always thought it was funny that you teased me about how I talked about Tyler. I did not think I was that swoony. Anyway, from time to time I’ve run across the letters Tyler and I wrote to each other (and the emails…that I printed out). Oh my word, your teasing was totally justified. We were ridiculously twitter-pated. Thank you for staying my friend.

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  • Tiffany

    I was reading your “About Me” section and clicked on this link not because I was curious but because I just wanted to re-read the story again. And again. I have actually told this story to other people because it ranks among my top ten “I wish to goodness this had happened to me” stories in my life. For all of the countless times I laughed my fool head off in the Honors House at Harding, hearing you recount this one stands out as the time I think I laughed the hardest. The story itself is fantastic but, somehow, listening and watching you tell it while in the company of people like Clay Johnson just made it aboout a thousand times funnier. Thank you for allowing me to relive that joy this morning.

    • http://kellywiggains.com/ Kelly Wiggains

      I was just thinking about that the other day, too. I love telling stories to people who laugh easily (you) and who don’t laugh easily (Clay) and getting them both to fall all over themselves. Such a thrill. Tyler gets me to tell this one at all parties and weddings. It’s a classic.