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December 08, 2016
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Love is a four-letter word

“St. James Infirmary” filled the night air as the Dirty Dozen Brass Band brought Mardi Gras to Bethel Woods.
TRR photos by Jonathan Fox

Valentine’s Day is not for the faint of heart. For those of us bravely facing the world alone, the onslaught of romance, hearts and flowers can be a bit much at this time of year, and since my cup doesn’t exactly “runneth” over today, I’ve decided to accentuate the positive. Being single does have certain advantages. I don’t love washing the dishes, and with no one around, I can eat my dinner right out of the frying pan and drink my milk straight from the carton without the slightest twinge of remorse. Jealous? Instead of asking my mate if I look presentable, I saunter out of the house in mismatched socks and yesterday’s sweatpants with a swagger that only a “confirmed bachelor” can pull off.

While standing in line at the grocery store, I ignore the wagging tongues and toss my donuts and Hungry Man dinners onto the conveyor belt with panache, convinced that a balanced meal is for those less fortunate than myself, and I throw in a bottle of vodka for good measure. “I don’t need to live forever,” I reason. “There’s no one to dance on my grave when I’m gone.” Speaking of dancing, I decided to check out the Dirty Dozen Brass Band at the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts’ Events Gallery ( last week and placed a few calls in search of a date. “Oh, I love them,” cried one prospective escort, “but I’m still doing my taxes. Sorry.” Scratching another name off the list, I dialed again. “They are the epitome of New Orleans-style jazz,” I explained “and they mix it up with bebop, funk and pop. Wanna come?”

“Sounds great,” came the response. “Can I bring a date?” Slamming the receiver, I looked at the dog and sighed. Leaving her home (for a change), I was hoping that I might have better odds without her getting all of the attention. “Let the good times roll,” I wheezed while entering the Event Gallery and glanced around the room. I’m not sure what I was thinking, for while the band was phenomenal, the place was packed with couples. The Dirty Dozen’s unique blend of musical styles, coupled with a traditional Mardi Gras sound, has been described (I checked online) as “a new standard by which all others are measured,” and I had to agree. The crowd went wild, dancing in the aisles, as the band entertained with horns blaring, encouraging the audience to be a part of the show.

I took pictures, shook hands and made myself look busy, a smile glued to my face all the while, ignoring the looks of pity, insisting that I was alone by choice. “Who has time?” I replied, when asked if I was by myself. “Between gigs, there’s the dog to walk, stories to write and shoveling, of course.” I left vodka out of the equation. Some things are better left unsaid. The concert left me feeling giddy, since they played with great joy and left the lovers wanting more, after belting out hits like “Git up,” “We gon’ roll,” and “E Flat Blues.” Before signing autographs and CD’s in the lobby, “St. James Infirmary” filled the night air and I took off, still tapping my toes as I drove home, one eye on the sky.

The storm was about to hit and I was happy to have had the foresight to stock up on the essentials. Puppy love greeted me and I patted and petted, listening to the ice hit the glass. “Aren’t we lucky?” I cooed at the wonder dog, “with no one to tell us what to do? The world is our oyster, let’s play fetch!” A few vodkas later, I woke up in a pool of drool and slumped into bed, as Dharma fought for the covers and licked me. “Could be worse,” I thought, while going over the schedule for the rest of the week. “Serenade: Your Business Valentine’s Mixer” ( in Rosendale, NY, sounded like a stretch while “Valentine’s Day—How do you show your love?” (, in Ellenville, NY was just plain (Mr. Bitter? Party of one?) out of the question.

My invite for the Musicians Gathering at the Catskill Distilling Company in Bethel, NY on Valentine’s Day ( stared back at me. “What better way to serenade your loved one for the holiday,” it screamed, “than a night of steady love songs? We’re all looking forward to it.” Uh-huh. Flipping channels, I was momentarily grateful not to have anyone fighting for the remote and I drifted off again. As cupid invaded my dreams, I drew back my bow and took aim. Standing over his adorable lifeless body, I admired my handiwork and I awoke refreshed, prepared to face another day of whine and roses.

Love may be grand, but in my house, it’s just (IMHO) another four letter word.