“Todel – you know – T-O-E D-E-L-L” I insisted, irritated from spell-pronouncing my name each time I met some millennial song artist wannabe who reeked of pinstriped suits. We had only exchanged emails three days ago. She wanted to meet. See if I still had my chops I guess. I hoped she wasn’t wasting my time.
“Toe-dell – got it” Jules smiled, pronouncing the name slowly, accentuating the second syllable ‘dell’. “Mr. Todel, I’m Jules Taylor. A big fan of your work.”
“Yeah yeah” I nodded, as I anointed my wrist with a hint of patchouli, dragged one last puff from the remains of a smoldering cigarette that triggered a note to self to pick up another carton before the bodega around the corner closed at 11PM. Plenty of time, although twenty minutes from now Ms. Jules will want to be sure I got my nicotine. Gathering my faded turquoise dashiki patched with threads outlasting an era where rebellion was king, I stood to meet Jules’ eyes. Her blond coiffed hair, jangling jewels and pinstripes could have easily placed her in the high tower offices of a corporate bank.
“Have any trouble finding the place?” I asked, and immediately wished the words hadn’t left my mouth. Of course she found it here OK. She’s here right? I mean, it’s a dank storefront with a name and a Brooklyn address. And you can’t miss the ‘Motown Recording Studio’ placard in the window. But her voice. Those few spoken words during our introduction had grown on me. I thought about the way ‘Jules’ melted off her lips. Four sweet bars of ‘ueeewwwwllleeess’ rumbled to a crescendo tickling my rib-cage before trailing off to a delicate whisper.
“So what’s up with the name Todel” Jules inquired, taking off her coat, and getting cozy with a cup of day old coffee.
She wants to know about my name? I couldn’t stop thinking about her voice. So soothing, rich and melodic, camouflaged by that taut perky exterior. Sure, I was tempted to tell her the story of my name. Writing my name in crayon 60 years ago with the finesse of a 5 year old, accidentally transforming a ‘d’ into an ‘el’. ‘Todd’, may have been birthright, but ‘Todel’, my new name etched in crayon pranced that day like a stallion. Nah, she wouldn’t understand. I needed to get her mic’d.
“It’s just a name” I mumbled, hiding my excitement. I slid into my favorite leather sandals, a relic from hallucinogenic days and guided Jules by the arm to the Neumann mic. A mic that blended lush sultry harmonies, reserved for the most gifted of voices. A voice so delicious – even without the mic – I could taste a sugary lace on the top of my tongue. Jules Taylor could possibly be the next Diana Ross. One thing for certain, that voice was no ordinary pinstriped millennial.
~~ J Wadsworth