Friday, December 09, 2005

Connect the dots.

Athens, Ga. 1996. I went to this play at the UGA drama department that was mostly a bust. However, all through it, this somewhat cute guy was staring at me, and, at intermission, I chatted him up. He was Finnish. His name was Sampsa. I thought he was flirting with me, so, after the play, we went to coffee at Blue Sky on College Avenue.

We got to the coffee shop; Sampsa ran into people that he knew, and I ran into people I knew. Something was going on downstairs in the basement with the fountain. It was a concert for some new group - just a girl and a guy of about our age. They called themselves Soul Miner's Daughter, which I thought was a clever name. It was their first official "concert," and they'd attracted a decent crowd of about 40 people.

That Sampsa guy kept flirting with me. The whole night seemed serendipitous. So we went downstairs and watched a bit of Soul Miner's Daughter's first show. Good sound. It got Soul Miner's Daughter a couple opening gigs around town.

That Sampsa guy held my hand. After a couple songs, we left the show to go to the Founder's Garden, where I kissed him. Then, we went to his dorm room, and I kissed him a couple more times.

Then, I left him in his room. And I saw him again that summer, after having not seen him for months, and Sampsa told me then that he happily allowed himself the indulgence of kissing me in that moment - but that afterward he was so plagued by guilt over the kisses that he forced himself back into the closet. He told me, during this explanation, that the guilt forced him to study more and more that quarter. Though I would've appreciated maybe seeing him more than that one evening, Sampsa instead credited me with helping him get on the Dean's List. After he said that, I decided I was finished with the Finnish.

Anyway, a couple weeks later, Soul Miner's Daughter was profiled in my paper, and I told someone, "Hey, I think I saw their first concert." There were many, many concerts after that. After a few years, the duo, having reached a notable status, broke up. The girl from Soul Miner's Daughter was named Jennifer Nettles. She took her act solo. Then, she founded a group called the Jennifer Nettles Band.

And now Jennifer Nettles is a member of a country group called Sugarland. Their major-label album is called TWICE THE SPEED OF LIFE, and it's a crossover hit that won an American Music Award last week. And the group was nominated for a Best New Artist Grammy yesterday.

I've never met Jennifer Nettles, but I think I was at her first concert.

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