Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Into the Great Wide Open

The things you miss when you have a social life every night.

There's the luxury of listening to country songwriter Brent Cobb who, I learn, hails from Ellaville, Georgia ("There's 1609 people where I'm from") on the radio telling his life story between singing songs from his new album.

The fact that I'd never heard of Brent only made hearing all this the more satisfying.

His life includes admitted worship of Shooter Jennings' attitude and Tom Petty's songwriting chops ("His songs seem simple because it's so conversational, because Tom Petty sings it like he says it") and makes for pretty entertaining listening as I putter about doing further trip preparation minutiae that will allow me to cross things off one of my many lists.

Like watering plants, choosing books and locating accessories. In what girlfriends would expect to be the unlikeliest of scenarios, I fashion a necklace out of one I'd created a couple years ago for a disco-themed party. Tonight, it lost the '70s flower and returned to its initial funky charm, albeit with some lengthening for a different look.

But all gainful activity pauses when Ray Charles' instrumental version of "One Mint Julep" comes on, not because I'd ever heard it before but because between its oh-so-'60s rhythms and beatnik-cool horn section, it is aural perfection that obliterates my capacity to do anything but wish I could samba or cha cha cha around sleek mid-century modern furniture in a Manhattan apartment.

As I'm grooving by the front windows, I glance down when I hear wailing. The Dad and sister of one of my young downstairs neighbors has kindly come to help the recent graduate move out, the mistake being that Dad left the driving and thus the parking to daughter, who has managed to park only after adding a fresh pole-shaped dent to the trunk and bumper.

It's a nice deep dent, too.

Standing next to the pole that managed to jump out at the back of the car, she whines, "I don't know how I did that!" to which I think, clearly there's much you don't know since the parking space could have accommodated a Chrysler as big as a whale and you struggled with your little entry-level Hyundai.

She tries the trunk, which no longer opens with the new pole imprint folding it into itself. Dad, meanwhile, is apoplectic, exchanging with her heated words in Spanish about her egregious error in judgement.

A simple trip to pick up your brother and look what you've done, his rapid-fire words and fierce scowl seem to say. Brother and friends come out and much excitable conversation unfolds. Clearly we have a situation on Clay Street.

Who knew there was so much drama right in front of my house on a Wednesday night? Certainly not me since I'm gone every night.

Later, when I come downstairs to go to the basement, I find a smiling man on the front porch, eager to introduce himself as Levar Stoney, former Commonwealth's secretary and recent addition to the mayoral race, the fourth I've met so far. Levar clarifies that he is the first in his family to graduate high school, much less college.

That's bootstraps right there.

So on a sunny summer evening at a time when I'd usually be out and about, we stand - he on the porch, me on the sidewalk - chatting genially about the next mayor addressing the deplorable school situation so we will stop losing families to the 'burbs once their tykes are school age.

Levar apologizes for his relative youth - 35 - but I point out that one need only be 35 to be President, so if it's apparently not too young for that job...

The funny part is, as soon as the words are out of my mouth, I think about this fact for the first time probably since Civics class and wonder holy hell, why would we even consider putting a 35-year old in charge of the free world?

I mean, 35 was old when the Constitution was written, so the age represented a far more evolved person than would be likely today.

For heaven's sake, it recently made news that for the first time in 130 years, Americans 18-34 are more likely to live with Mom and Dad than in any other living situation. Come on, millennials, what happened to good old-fashioned living in sin, or better yet, in a group house with other minimum wage lifelong students and artist types?

Really, Mom and Dad were the only choice?

I'm inclined to think that theoretically there should be more years between moving out of your parents' basement and into the White House than one. Let's say a minimum of ten and if we have to adjust the preamble to allow for delayed adolescence/arrested development, I say do it.

For that matter, are we even producing 35-year olds capable of running a country? Seems doubtful.

But that will have to be a discussion for another day since between phone conversations, hemming dresses and attempting to pack lightly, I have bigger fish to fry. Preferably a nice skate wing in brown butter with capers.

For now, a simple bon voyage will do.

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