In the year 1983 when I was 18 years old, I was fortunate to get to see Dizzy Gillespie play in a small auditorium on the campus of South East Missouri University. He played from the soul brilliantly, as he always did, and the back up musicians were phenomenal as well. I loved the way he seemed to go out of his way to feature the other musicians and I will never forget the way the audience members were singing along, not with their voices but with slight undulations of their bodies and blissful expressions on their faces.
During an intermission, I stood at the end of a long line for the bathroom thinking to myself
' just my luck,..I'm going to miss the start of the next session '. It was finally my turn and I did my business as quickly as possible, waved my hands under the water and fled for the auditorium while wiping my hands on my shirt. When I opened the door to the hallway I saw that it was deserted and again cursed my luck. Just then, I heard a door behind me open and when I turned to look, there was Dizzy exiting the men's room.
I approached him and said something like : " Mr. Gillespie it is such an honor to meet you. " He smiled his angelic smile and I went on, " Would you mind blowing your cheeks out so that I can kiss you on your cheek?" I asked, " Well," he said, " the last time I did that for a lady she bit me." He chuckled and I chuckled nervously and put out my hand which he took warmly in his own to shake.
" Well," I said, "I think you are amazing and thank you for what you're doing, thank you for being you".
He smiled to thank me and I turned to walk away not wanting to hold him up and as I began walking
I heard him say " I could kiss YOU on YOUR cheek ". I walked back to him with the biggest shit eating grin on my face and leaned towards him offering my cheek. How a kiss could be so warm yet so electric I can't explain. When I think about it, I can still feel the warmth and electricity of those magic blowers on my face. Happy Birthday, Dizzy. You will live forever.
OH,...I almost forgot. As of yesterday I'm on the transplant list. It is estimated I'll have a new liver within 2 to 6 months.