The Unknown Soldier

At Memphis in May Sunset Symphony you can bring in coolers full of food and alcohol. After a 6-year hiatus I went this year, meeting one of my BBQ teammates and her group of friends. Of course, I had to make a stop at Jack’s Food Store to pick up supplies.

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This is a sad story.

As you see, I took a 12-pack of PBR.

I consumed nine of the cans of PBR.

I gave one away.

One made it safely home in the cooler.

And then there was the twelfth one.

“The Unknown Soldier.”

I walked down to the south entrance of Tom Lee Park about 6 yesterday, running into my BBQ teammate who organized the group as I walked down Georgia Avenue. We turned onto Riverside and stopped at the south entrance to wait for the others. At the entrance my eyes welled up with tears. I tried to hide it from my teammate but couldn’t. “Paul, what’s wrong?” she asked.

“I’m sorry,” I said. “I’m just thinking of two weeks ago this day, and all the wonderful memories of helping my teammates load in for BBQ Fest.”

“Paul,” she said, putting her hand on my arm, “everyone knows you were a stallion at load-in. But you have to move on. You have to live for today.” She was right. I wiped my eyes and we went in the park.

We spent the next 20 minutes meeting up with people. Meetups at Sunset Symphony are so funny. “I’m in front of the funnel cake stand.” “I’m 100 yards north of the obelisk.” Except, not north, but south. I took a photo of a green house and posted, “I’m directly west of this house, 3/4 block south of the Huling entrance, 10 feet west of the speaker in the very middle.”

Anyway, we finally all met up. My BBQ teammate hangs out with the international crowd, a large, super-cool group of people that I’ve always wanted to hang out with more but just haven’t because there isn’t that much overlap with my Downtown group. The Moody Ques were represented at Sunset Symphony:

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The air show was going on for a while and then the symphony started. “Did I just feel a sprinkle?” someone asked. I pulled up the radar on my iPhone. An isolated storm cell was moving into Downtown. We packed up our stuff in a hurry and ran to the “small house” near the stage and got under its overhang.

And here’s where the tragedy occurred.

Right as we were packing up, I finished the PBR I was drinking. Not being one to litter, I crushed the can and threw it back in the cooler to dispose of later. Then I reached in the cooler for another PBR, and right as I did, the downpour hit.

And I dropped the PBR I took out of the cooler.

I couldn’t stop running for cover. I didn’t want to get more soaked, I didn’t want to hold my friends up, and I wanted a spot under the overhang.

So I left a good man behind.

“The Unknown Soldier.”

I don’t know what happened to that unopened PBR can, but I hope someone found it and gave it the send-off it deserved.

Anyway, the group decided to re-convene at the Tennessee Brewery (damn these people make excellent decisions). After a couple of Abita Strawberries, my BBQ teammate dropped me off at my apartment then headed home to East Memphis. I put my stuff up, changed out of my wet clothes, and went back out, to the Blind Bear. “Katie Mac sent me” was the password to get in for free. Monday is her actual birthday but I went ahead and bought Katie Mac a shot.

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Couple of beers there, quick stop by the Saucer to say hello to folks and then I called it a night. Excellent day despite the rain. Would you believe I bought 3 disposable rain ponchos week before last, but have been caught in the rain twice without them? Memphis in May 2, Paul 0.

Before I wrap up this post, we can’t forget what month this is. As I walked out the door a few minutes before 11 yesterday, I heard, “Paul! Come take a picture of us!” from the patio of Cafe Keough.

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It’s hard to tell because of all the hair but Jill had a tube top on!!!!! First photo of Tube Top Month. Jill came by Bardog later with her hair pulled up. She didn’t know that my offer of a free Fireball or moonshine to the first tube-topster who asks was still out there. It was hers for the taking but she didn’t claim it. Offer is still on.

All right, I don’t want the last PBR that made it home with me to feel neglected. I’m going to pop it open and drink it and then head to Bloom’s bar at Bardog at 11. One recommendation for live music tonight: One of the true legends of Memphis music, Dr. Herman Green, turns 84 today and he will be performing with FreeWorld at Blues City Cafe’s Band Box at 9:30. This is the only place to be if you want to catch some live music tonight.

All right. Done. Time to take a shower and get this day going. I expect this to be a very late night. Pray for me that I don’t end up at Purple Haze.