Back when hair was never too big and shoulders were padded to look like linebackers, I worked in the real world. That is, if the corporate world is real. At that time, it sometimes fell to me to prepare a cost-benefit analysis to recommend or determine the best approach to addressing a specific business need.
While those days are long gone, an abbreviated version of the basic task is required every time I leave the house in the age of COVID.
A few days ago, I did a mini analysis to determine whether I should do something not specifically essential, but that I wanted to do anyway. I found that the risk was worth it. (I’m not going into detail because explaining what one does, why one does it, and what precautions were taken in the doing of it is tedious.) All dressed and ready to venture out, it should have come as no surprise that my battery was dead. After all, the car hadn’t been driven in over three weeks. The obvious metaphor for life in 2020 was in no way amusing.
Off the next day with a newly charged battery but the same unseen outfit from the day before, I navigated into traffic with a caution acquired from driving only sporadically since March. Moving into the flow, I turned the radio to my favorite oldies radio station.
At the first red light, the normal ritual of driving continued when I pulled down the visor to check my face in the mirror. Knowing the mask was going on when I left the car, I once again considered the benefits of figuring out how to apply makeup only to the parts of the face that show.
I focused a bit on this face I got, this here phizzog I carry around. Getting older has lessened the fullness of the lips and diminished their color. But, there’s not much point in wearing lipstick under a mask which, when removed, will be wearing the lipstick.
Another lesson learned is that the mask likes to wear foundation, too. This was discovered the first time I looked in the mirror after wearing one to find my face made up only from hairline to cheekbones. The inside of my mask, meanwhile, looked like the bottom half of one of those “I ran into Tammy Faye at the mall” T-shirts.
The light turned green, and I flipped the visor up. By the time I had completed the left turn, the Luby’s cafeteria (now closed) came into view. We ordered Thanksgiving dinner from there last year, and I had a full-fledged Karen episode because the food wasn’t ready for pick-up at the appointed time. Luby’s now seems to be the victim of bad management and COVID, and I feel more than a little simpatico with LuAnn.
Oh, well. I wasn’t going to get Thanksgiving there anyway. Besides, what’s Thanksgiving this year? Or Christmas, for that matter. I was well on my way to a socially distanced pity party when I heard something familiar on the radio.
“Do do do do do do do…” I glanced down at the radio. “Do do do do do do do…” I looked up to the rear view mirror. “Do do do do do do do…” It was as if Loggins and Messina had hopped into the backseat. “Do do do do do…[drumroll] Hey, little girl, won’t you meet me at the schoolyard gate?”
As I moved from the street to the expressway, the road wasn’t heading north out of Dallas, but east out of Tyler going to the lake at full sail. My car with the newly charged battery had magically turned into that Oldsmobile sedan with the bench seats that could seat seven teenagers comfortably, plus room for a couple more if anyone had a fight with her boyfriend and needed a ride home.
Moving through the verse but uncertain of the lyrics, my confidence lifted and the volume of my singing increased by the time we got to the more familiar, “and roll with the rhythm tonight…God knows that I love my music…Ain’t no one gonna change my tune…”
By this point, I’m not just singing, I’m dancing from the waist up. The left hand at straight up noon on the steering wheel, and my right snapping to “the rhythm and it’s comin’ on strong.” My shoulders are in on the action, feeling the “power in the sound.” And, thankfully, I’m reminded that “with everybody jumpin’ we can bring the house down.”
It doesn’t matter now that Daddy didn’t rock and roll, because Mother danced. (She was Methodist.) I do, too, when I remember to turn the radio on.
It’s good to remember to “get to gettin’ when the gettin’ is right.” Otherwise, like fried chicken at a family reunion, there may not be anything worth gettin’ left.