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They say the veils are getting thinner.  I think it’s true.

Several years ago I walked down the street, glanced at a man and saw a rhinoceros.  But in those days, it was a once-a-year experience and I kept it mostly to myself, but for my long-suffering husband and one skeptical friend.  Now it’s common.

Last night we heard a concert in Boulder.   We had the good luck to be in the front row.  A guitar player sat in front of me and as I watched his finger work my gut said casually, Civil War.

Now, I’m using “gut” loosely; this is not where I go for information but it’s an easy way to describe flashes of intuition.

I stared at the man, picking away.  He had a goatee but so do a lot of people, that wasn’t it.  He had razor-sharp cheekbones that suggested hardship, but then again, marvelous hair.  Longish, wavy, good cut.  He was thin but not painfully so.

A fiddle moaned away above the guitar.  Civil War! my gut insisted.

Nah, I thought, you’re making stuff up.  It’s just the thin lapels.

Pay attention. How many times had I heard that and ignored it?

Union cavalry. My gut was smug.

I know!  I could ask my husband!  It would go one of two ways:  he would say yeah, maybe I was right; he could see that, sure.  Or he’d find it inconsequential.

On the other hand he was something of a historian when it came to war.  He had a sense that he’d participated in many armed conflicts.

Not a general, my gut interrupted happily.  He’s not a foot soldier, either. I could see the soldier was educated, had some money, just below general?  Then I noticed a weariness, something that said the war was nearing the end.  Isolation, too–what was this man going home to?

The guitar player was bright, alive and focused on the stage; the Civil War energy wasn’t weighing this man down in the present.  Look again, my gut urged.

The soldier was disillusioned about something.  I think he started out idealistic and zealous but the war had aged him and he was changed forever.  He had disassociated.

Then my gut wandered over to another musician.  Confederate! it crowed. Foot soldier.  Why do you say that? I thought.  The kid had on a groovy modern suit and a head of floppy brown hair, very fashionable.  But there it was.  The aura of war was unmistakable.

Still.  Please! I said.  He’s wearing a gray suit! Of course you’re gonna say Confederate soldier!  Yeah?  Look at the others, my gut sniffed.

Sure enough, there were two other men on the stage and one of them in gray.  My gut was imperious.  Obviously, they didn’t see active duty in that particular conflict. One of the men gave off a whiff of some sort of tropical environment and an atmosphere like a party–

See? My gut jerked me back to the Eastern Theater, ca. 1865.

Driving home in the car my husband and I deconstructed the evening.  The fiddle player was phenomenal, the youngsters from Nashville “adorable”.  We liked this part and that part and wasn’t the host funny?

Then my husband said, “Man, watching the young guys I felt like I was looking at two really ragged Confederate soldiers.”





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