The Day I Met Harlan Howard
Updated: Apr 3, 2019
The day I met Harlan Howard was an ordinary workday Wednesday for me. I was working for a post-production facility in midtown Nashville. I liked my job; I didn’t love it. I was looking forward to catching up with a dear college friend after work. We had plans to eat sushi. Sushi was relatively new to Nashville in 1987. I had a friend who had taken me several times, so I knew enough to bluff my way through the ordering process.
We were going to meet at a nearby restaurant, The Third Coast, then head over for sushi. I had hosted at The Third Coast for a brief time prior to this evening so I knew the bartender, Psycho, and was comfortable hanging at the bar by myself. Upon arriving at The Third Coast, Psycho mentioned I had a phone call. I thought, good grief no one knows that I am here. Seems my dinner date had car trouble and was stranded in the Donelson area. No worries, I thought, I’ll go by myself.
I cruised over to the bar to order a drink, when an elderly gentleman turned his head and looked directly into my eyes and said, “who are you?” I replied, “I’m Melanie, who are you?” He said, “I’m Harlan, would you like to go eat some Italian food?” I said, “no thanks, I’m going to eat sushi.” Harlan asked, “what’s sushi?” I said, “raw fish.” He said, “how gross! Care if I go with you?” I said, “sure I’m going by myself.” Harlan turned to the female sitting to the right of him and asked if she wanted to go eat sushi with us to which she replied that she didn’t and he handed her $20 and told her to buy herself some Italian food. Needless to say, I was shocked and asked if that was his date? He said no it was his buddy’s girlfriend, he just didn’t want to eat dinner alone.
We went to Goten’s. I ordered crunchy shrimp rolls for Harlan and the eel which is cooked, he ate no raw fish. He seemed to enjoy sushi or maybe it was the sake. He lurched upon his first taste of the hot liquid but gulped it down easily. After a third sake, he looked at me and pronounced these fateful words, “I’m gonna marry your ass!” I blinked and said, “what?” He emphatically stated, “I’m gonna marry you!” “If you are hanging out with me a year from today, I’m gonna marry you.” “What is today?” I was so stunned, I couldn’t speak. I stammered, “today is…today is April something.” It took me a moment to realize that yes indeed it was April and it was April 1st, 1987. Then it dawned on me and I started to giggle and then laugh and perhaps snort and said, “oh that’s a good one, Harlan, you really got me, April Fool’s.” He said, “I’m not foolin’, I’m gonna marry you!” I thought to myself, you must be crazy or drunk if you think we’re getting hitched in a year!
It wasn’t a year later, it was two and a half years later that we married, August 30, 1989. Happy Anniversary, Harlan. You’re a hard act to follow!