A friend of mine recently converted the backhouse of his Midtown home into a playground for adults. It was a genius idea, really. The father of a toddler and a newborn, his days of going out to meet the gang to watch a game or grab a cocktail were limited, at best. In fact, three families in our group of friends also welcomed new additions, and our "wherever-the-night-takes-us" escapades were over. Enter the backhouse idea.
The place is fantastic. There's a bar, two mini-fridges, a jukebox bursting with some killer vinyl, a foosball table, a TV, and an organ. Yes, one of our friends plays the organ. It's quite entertaining and a terribly underrated talent, if you ask me.
The backhouse sits in a fenced-in yard stocked with plenty of toys; the little ones have their buddies to play with, and so do the grown-ups. We've had some great times there, but none so great as when a group of 12 or so of us piled in to cheer on the Tigers in the Final Four at what we dubbed our "Caliparti." It was a perfect sunny Saturday, and spirits were running high. We whooped and jeered, had quick dance parties during commercial breaks, and taught some of the older kids how to shoot baskets. When the game ended, we all vowed to meet again, dressed in our finest blue duds, to watch our hometown team stomp Kansas for the national title.
Okay, so that last part didn't work out so well. Yes, it hurt. Yes, it still hurts a little even as I type this. Our backyard party went from jubilant to despondent in an instant.
Thanks in part to my husband, who had donned a suit and slicked his hair back in homage to Coach Cal, the mood lifted as he went around the room slapping palms and telling everyone 'We'll get 'em next year, people!" Someone punched a few buttons on the jukebox, and suddenly, everyone was singing along with Rufus Thomas as he wailed about "The Memphis Train." The lyrics seemed perfect somehow for the moment:
Train number one is gone
Train number two is gone
Train number three is been gone
Now how long must I wait for you
As I looked around, I was struck with the wonderful absurdity of it all. Word of our Caliparti had spread, and by night's end, we had writers, lawyers, students, business owners, a couple of teachers, and a priest all dancing together in a cramped backhouse. In spite of our loss, it was one of the best Mondays I've had in a long time.
The thing is, what happened in that backyard happened all across the city. Rich and poor, black and white, Democrats and Republicans set aside their differences, and for one night, we were a city united.
If we could tackle our city's issues with the same fervor, Memphis couldn't lose.
Perhaps we should take a shot.