May 18th, 2017
“Country music is three chords and the truth.” – Harlan Howard
Kent took Karin and me to the Loveless Café in Nashville. It’s on the western end of Nashville, and it is apparently a very popular restaurant. Kent was surprised that we got in so quickly. Usually there is a long wait. Kent told us that country musicians often show up there. I wouldn’t recognize any of them if I saw them, but that sounded good.
I’ve never been a big fan of country music myself, but Hans likes it. He only likes the old country music. Hans told me once,
“Dad, I don’t like that new stuff that kind of sounds like rock or rap. I like the old songs. They remind me of my life.”
“Well, the songs are all about losing your friends or your home or your truck. In the end, the only thing left is your Harley.”
The Loveless has a motel attached to it. I’m not sure that I understand that, but it is so. Inside the restaurant the walls are covered with pictures of famous people, most of which I couldn’t identify. We were already sitting at a table when Kent walked to the other side of the restaurant and met up with some his wife’s relations. So, we all moved to a big, round table near the front window. Karin and I got to meet Darryl and Maggie, and I don’t remember exactly how they are connected with Kent’s wife, Deanna. Darryl was former military, an aviator. Deanna was running late, so we decided to order. Maggie and Darryl had their food coming.
Just reading the menu was enough to induce a coronary. The list for supper was filled with choices like fried chicken liver and/or gizzards, country ham dinner, fried pork chop dinner, southern-fried catfish, and country-fried steak. Everything came with creamed corn and biscuits. There was something called “chicken-fried chicken”. Somehow that sounded completely redundant. A person could also get a side of fried okra. Somehow, Karin found a garden salad. I went for the fried chicken, which rocked. Kent had the ham. The food was excellent. It’s just not a place to eat healthy. The selection of local beers was pretty lean. I had a Gerst Amber Ale. That worked.
I guess I should introduce Kent. Kent is a classmate of mine from West Point. I last saw him in October of 1982. It had been a while. Since Karin and I were heading down to Texas via Ohio, I figured we had an opportunity to meet with Kent. Our visit with him was brief. He had to be in eastern Tennessee early the next morning to meet with a politician about veteran benefits. Kent works with veterans, especially people who are struggling with PTSD. Kent’s wife, Deanna, is involved with helping people with addictions. In some ways their vocations dovetail.
Kent knows Hans. More accurately, Kent knows of Hans. Kent and Hans have spoken on the phone, but they have never met. It’s strange, but Hans’ problems as a vet caused me to reconnect with Kent. Kent and I were close years ago, and now we are close again because of Hans’ experiences in the Iraq War. I hope that Kent and Hans meet up someday. They are both Harley guys. Getting to know Kent probably would be good for Hans, and it might not be a bad thing for Kent either.
When Deanna showed up, we ate and talked at the table. The conversation mostly revolved around the Army, and veterans, and Hans. I told some Hans stories. Hans came back from the war comfortable with violence, and he got involved with some interesting people. Kent and Deanna weren’t in the least surprised or shocked. None of this stuff was new to them. They deal with vets and their issues all the time. In a way it was comforting to know that Hans isn’t alone with his struggles, but it is also profoundly sad.
Kent took Karin and me back our motel after supper. We sat in the lobby and talked some more. It’s impossible to catch up on a generation’s worth of events. It’s good that we got together again, but so many things had happened over time. Where does a person begin?
When Kent left us, he said, ”Let’s not wait another thirty-five years to do this again.”