He kissed my cheek before bucketing my noggin.

A few nights ago Ben Folds gently placed a bright pink bucket hat on my head and crowned me Queen of the Shirtless Crab Walk.

But let’s start at the beginning, shall we?

When Jeff and I were shopping for wedding rings, we ended up at a jewelry store in a mall in Nashville, Tennessee. After making our selections (Jeff’s ring is gold with black ridges that remind him of record albums, mine is platinum and has eleven tiny diamonds embedded into the band for no real reason at all), we were asked if we wanted anything engraved onto the rings.

Me: Yes. Put ‘My Only Friend, The End’ inside Jeff’s ring.

Jewelry Store Kid: Seriously?

Me: Yes. If engraving costs less than five dollars.

After our wedding ceremony, it occurred to me that Jeff never answered the question about engraving. I slid the ring off of my finger, expecting (and sort of hoping) to find a fabulous William Gass quote. Instead, I found one word. Ben.


Me: Jeff? Why did you do this?

Jeff: Um, I didn’t do that. Actually, it sort of looks like the engraver screwed up someone else’s ring and then put it back into the case to be sold. Look at the messed up N.

Me (muttering a few expletives, some that begin with an F): I’ll be clearing this up when we get back to Nashville.

Get this. When I returned to the store to clear up the Ben issue, I found that all of the jewelry cases had been removed, and the store had closed down leaving no forwarding address. Interesting. (I immediately took the ring to have it appraised. I have no idea why, other than: What if those aren’t really diamonds?! What if it’s not really platinum?! It seems that everything is fine, except I still have Ben rubbing up against the finger that holds the vein that runs directly to my heart or something.)

Let’s fast forward seven years, shall we? (Seven years that involved purchasing every Ben Folds album and familiarizing the girls with his music to the extent that they can name Gracie in less than three notes.) ((If you follow that link, please know that I have no idea who the people are in that video, and I sort of wish they wouldn’t have interrupted the song with their baby’s first cry. Then again, I tend to be insensitive when the moon is full.))

On Thursday night, Jeff and I took to the streets to see Ben Folds play at The Pageant. And I won’t tell you that I was clearly the oldest person in attendance, because that fact tends to make my eyes well up a bit. So, let’s skip over my realization that several of the kids in line were born when I was already drinking beer. Legally. Wait. Can I just tell you that I heard a girl say “It’s on like Donkey Kong!” as we stood in line to enter the building? She was totally serious about It being On like Donkey Kong! (She had spent nearly two hours in the Big People line, and was slightly distressed about being asked to move to the back of the Under 21 line. When we heard her story and discovered that it was about to be On like Donkey Kong, we quickly surrendered our place in the Under 21 line and went in search of our fellow Big People. I do not regret that move.)

We found our seats, we made out a bit (I might be stretching the truth on that one), and we prepared for the opening act. (Prepared = Continued to sit. We were very lucky to have seats.) Opening act? Missy Higgins. And during her first song I developed one of those I Want to Buy All of Her Albums Right Now crushes. I also want to figure out how to knit the cabled tank she was wearing. But you don’t care about that, do you?

The Ben Folds performance? As expected, it was flawless. Had you been sitting next to me, you would have noticed me giving my cranial approval by cocking my head to the side in that “I’m really feeling this” way, and nodding to the rhythm as if to say “Yes! Uh huh! Uh huh!” over and over again. Let’s see. Do you mind if I simply run down the set list with you? (I know you’re really wanting to get to the part about the shirtless crab walk. I’m getting there. I promise.)

And right now you’re wondering what the Fake Leak thing is, right? I know! Before their latest album was released, Mr. Folds “leaked” songs onto the internet with the same titles as the album tracks. But they weren’t the album songs. SO, the folks who grabbed up the fakes thought they were getting actual album tracks. But they weren’t. And I would say something about getting pleasantly punked, but I’m 38, remember?! (You can find some of the leaks on this site if you fish around a bit.)

By the way, we left after the fake leak version of Frowne Song. If you were at the show, please don’t tell me that we missed a second encore. Please. And please don’t tell me that it contained Philosophy. Seriously. Because I don’t want to know that. (Philosophy was on the CD that Jeff and I gave out to everyone at our wedding reception. And that was Seven Years Ago tomorrow. October 20th. Seven Years. I’ve never held a job for seven years. I’ve never done Anything for seven years. (Except for the Fluid Pudding thing. Fluid Pudding and Jeff. There you go. Cheers.))

When we got home after the show that night, I sat up and watched The Office. And then I fell asleep and had a dream during which I was crab walking around The Pageant without my shirt on. (As I sometimes do. The employees are very patient.) I eventually found myself backstage balancing a bottle of beer in Billy Pancake, and Ben Folds walked up, bent down, kissed my cheek, and placed a bright pink bucket hat on my head. “You are Queen of the Shirtless Crab Walk!” he proclaimed as he tapped my head with his own bottle of beer, which is just as good as slipping an engraved ring containing eleven tiny diamonds onto the finger that holds the vein that runs directly to my heart or something. And it all seemed very Just Another Day in the Life.

If your heart is in your dream, no request is too extreme. When you wish upon a star as dreamers do. ‘ ‘ ‘text/javascript’>

25 thoughts on “He kissed my cheek before bucketing my noggin.”

  1. I would love to see Ben Folds live! Also Missy Higgins, and YES you should buy everything she has released!! I had the same reaction when I saw her performance on Live Earth last summer. (I would also have obsessed over figuring out a cool knit item so there you go)

  2. I don’t go to concerts that often either, but it’s more economic than feeling old, given that most of the artists I dig are more likely to appear on the cover of AARP than Rolling Stone.

  3. One of your very most awesome every-which-way posts, FP. I had no clue where this one was going, but sure did enjoy the ramble we took with you to get there :-)

  4. Yeah. I’d probably marry you, too. Women willing to do shirtless crab walks while wearing a pink bucket as a hat are few and far between, as Jeff already knows so well.

    He’s a lucky guy: Toe for a thumb AND you.

  5. My wedding ring is inscribed “ED” I’m not certain if it was a return, if that is some sort of crafty gold smuggler code, or if it originally came from a goody bag at an Erectile Dysfunction benefit gala. I prefer to think it is the latter.

  6. Like Kelly up there, I am also celebrating my 8th anniversary today. Happy Anni, you guys!

    And Ben Folds is dreamy, in that geeky/poetic way. He can come rock my suburbs anytime.


  7. Congratulations on the 7 years wedded together! I hope neither of you get itchy this year.

    And, wow, I love Missy Higgins. Thanks for the link; I think I’ll run out (well, ‘out’ being to iTunes or some such) and fetch her music. Good stuff.

  8. I think the last concert I attended was The Cranberries/Toad the Wet Sprocket at Riverport Ampitheater (when it was still called that) in 1994(?). Well, I take that back, I did see The Smithereens last October at Argosy Casino but that was so small time. N-E-who, you describing the concert makes me really want to go to one again. I wished I had caught The Kooks and Squeeze when they were at The Pageant a few weeks back.

    Happy Anniversary to you & Jeff! Seven-years is nothing to sneeze at these days.

  9. The last two concert tickets I purchased ended up on Craigslist. Too many evening obligations getting in the way of the music. This being an adult thing sux.

    May I confess here that I tend to cry at performances and am thankful for the dark? I’d have needed a box of kleenex in order for it to be on like donkey kong. Does a 20 yr old even know what DK is?

  10. Alyce–I do the same thing! Especially when little kids sing. I either get really creeped out, or else I start choking up! You and I should go to a concert together. Imagine the looks we’ll get when we start bawling!

  11. My husband and I are seeing Ben Folds on our 9-year anniversary in SF on Nov. 13 — I can’t wait!

    The only other time I’ve seen him live was when we went to see him when he opened for Tori Amos a while back. It was just Ben and a piano on an outdoor stage — amazing.

    I came so close naming our first daughter Gracie b/c of that song … but couldn’t convince my husband to switch from Ella. So now I just sing along as Ellie-Girl. :)

  12. The shirtless crab walk thing is fine as long as it’s not up-side down, excorcist style cause that;s just cuh reepy. Happy Anniversary and many more!!!!!

  13. I was also at that show!! Afterward I went back to his tour bus so I could meet him. As he walked out of the Pageant, I started panicking because I had nothing for him to sign. So I asked for a hug, which he graciously gave, and asked him to…sign my arm. I’m such a dork. But he laughed, I swooned, and he drew a picture of a piano on my forearm. I considered having it tattooed (that was the Schlafly Pale Ale’s idea) but settled for taking a picture of it instead. The End. What a great show!

  14. Hello! I’ve lost some of my old contacts when my email was taken down in Lex, KY.
    I’ve moved back to Nashville. I wanted to keep my beating heart within my chest (did I tell you about that one?) hope to hear from you.

  15. I am off to see Ben tonight! I too have Ben Folds dreams and they have occasionally veered weirdly into the erotic area (?) I will be among the oldest ever in the crowd… and when I saw him last year at a local University, I was blatantly stared at as everyone was afraid their mom had snuck into the concert. Screw those youngsters. I don’t think they really appreciate his genius. Happy Anniversary to you. I am on year 26 and tonight my date for the concert is my 13 yr old son.

  16. The concert was amazing.. and we did get Philosophy during the set list and the final encore, after the frown fake was Not the Same and we faded into the night all still singing the crowd refrain. God I love that man.

  17. I have just recently found Missy Higgins as well. You may want to check out Brandi Carlile also. Their music has some similarities that you may enjoy…

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