Take My Number…A Tribute

Melissa Etheridge File Photo
Melissa Etheridge

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Of the many musicians and types of music I enjoy, there is one musician I haven’t written about on this humble blog. That would be American singer, songwriter, and guitarist Melissa Etheridge. So, for this chilly pre-spring equinox Wednesday I’m going to correct that deficiency. I’m also going to make a tribute to a woman who once helped me through the absolute lowest point of my life.

Bonus music video for those brave visitors who read all the way through this post.

The Background

I remember hearing Melissa Etheridge’s first two breakout hits “If I Wanted To“, and “Come to My Window” shortly after they were released in 1993. I was on the tail end of my Navy career then, living on-board my ship in Peral Harbor, Hawaii as a geobachelor. Her hits were popular on the music videos of MTV and VH1. Back when MTV and VH1 did actually play music videos.

I was emotionally struggling then, both by being a geobachelor, dealing with daily life aboard that ship, and by facing the approaching end of my Navy career. Etheridge’s gravelly voice and earthly music seemed to come straight from her heart. Her music struck me as coming from a person who’d lived through hard times. Altogether, her music spoke to me in the emotional place I was in at that time.

I didn’t hear much of her new music after that, until her 2014 album This Is M.E.. With that album, her song “Take My Number” again resonated with me, but for a very different reason than her earlier work.

In 2000 I went through an extremely painful divorce. I’ve previously written about the events surrounding my divorce. But there is one story I haven’t previously written, about a woman who selflessly helped me through a bad time while she herself was going through bad times.

A Divorce Story

My first wife started an affair with our next-door neighbor, an older single man, around Christmas 1999. By spring 2000 I had discovered the affair and put my wife to the ultimatum of “Him or Me.” Her choice was “Him” and a few weeks later took off with the neighbor in his RV for an extended adventure around the United States. Divorce papers were filed during this time, and we went into the Mississippi-mandated six-month “cooling off” period. On my own in an empty house.

Knowing it was only a matter of time before I was legally single again, I started exploring the then-new world of online dating. I quickly hooked up with a woman about my age, Amy, living in the town next to mine.

Amy

Amy was then a waitress at a local Waffle House restaurant. She was a single Mom with a son and daughter, whose husband was finishing up the last year of a four-year prison sentence, incarcerated in Florida. Amy hadn’t seen her husband since his arrest and had every intention of divorcing him once he was released. I don’t remember the exact nature of his crimes other than they were non-violent and involved doing really stupid – illegal – stuff. Amy was living the single life as best she could while supporting her and her two kids on a Waffle House waitresses’ earnings.

She was kind and generous in sharing what she had at a time I really needed that. We dated a few times and really enjoyed each other’s company. One especially nice date was going to see “Lord of the Dance” with her at one of the local casinos. Then, my soon-to-be-ex-wife returned from her RVing adventures and announced she “wanted to try again.” I let Amy know, and she was extremely understanding while wishing me “good luck.”

That “trying again” lasted about four weeks. Then my now ex- moved out for good, taking up housekeeping with her next-door boyfriend. Five days after her moving out I came home and discovered my ex- had been inside my house, leaving a copy of her marriage certificate with next-door neighbor on my kitchen table. After a nearly year-long divorce ordeal, this was a final slap in my face. It was the absolute lowest point of my life.

An Act of Kindness

A few minutes after I found, read, and comprehended that marriage certificate Amy happened to call. In a shaky voice, I explained what I’d just found. Amy’s response “come over now. I’ll pour you a drink.” So, I drove over to her home.

I was struggling to hold myself together that evening. Amy had a fresh bottle of Jack Daniels and poured me large shots over ice as fast as I emptied my glass. After a couple of hours of me struggling, talking to her, Amy made a comment about being home early that day. Something about the way she said it broke through my self-pity shell and I asked, “weren’t you at work today?” Her response “I got fired today.”

Her simple statement shocked me back into reality and forced a perspective on my own life. We spent the rest of the evening sharing drinks and commiserating with each other over how much life sucked.

Amy got me through a really bad night, still the worse night in my life. And she did that at a time she had her own issues of no job and two children to support on her own. She was selflessly kind to me at a time when she needed help herself.

We drifted apart after that night but did keep in touch for a while. The last time we spoke, Amy had found a new waitressing job at a more upscale place then Waffle House. She was also in-process of divorcing her husband and looking forward to her own better life.

A Tribute

In 2014 Melissa Etheridge released her album This Is M.E., with her song “Take My Number.” This song brings back memories of Amy, and the night she helped me through the lowest point of my life. So, today, for no reason other than this is long past due, I dedicate this music video to Amy, wherever she may be. And I’m sending a wish that Amy found a good life with people who love her.

Edited for format, Mach 26, 2024

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