It is a stellar January day when I can wear shorts the whole day long. You'd be amazed at what a conversation-starter they can be.
With temperatures already lounging in the upper '60s by the time I left for my walk, it was a foregone conclusion that I'd head to the river, where I spotted a stand-up paddleboarder from the top of the Second Street hill and enormous flocks of what looked like sea birds roosting in the river as I crossed the T Pot bridge.
I wasn't the only one happily wearing shorts to give my legs an airing - although I only saw three others among the sunny day throngs - but lots of sandals were proof positive that plenty of people were celebrating a 70 degree high only four days after suffering through a 19 degree high (which, incidentally felt like 8 with the wind chill factor).
Yesterday's high of 50 had been more than enough to lure me outside on any pretext, which is how a supposed quick errand to the drug store two blocks away somehow resulted in spontaneously dropping by my neighborhood record store.
Despite my wafer-thin wallet, I can justify a mid-afternoon visit to Steady Sounds because I don't mind being at the mercy of the $1 bins.
When I finally got a turntable a couple of months ago, my record collection (which hadn't been played in decades) numbered around 100, which probably represents about half of what I'd owned before friends borrowed and didn't return and mates absconded with choice albums when we parted ways.
But it didn't matter because I hadn't heard any of them in so long and I owned very few of them on CD. So I set out to listen to the records of my youth, a fascinating process that showed me how much of my current musical taste was shaped back then.
What I mean is, I can hear now that Grin led me directly to Ryan Adams. Thanks, Nils.
I lasted exactly ten days (and listened to about 80% of my collection) before I just couldn't stand it anymore and hit two record stores in one day, netting probably close to 20 albums, almost all of which cost a whopping $1 a piece.
And here's the beauty of shopping the cheapo bins: it affords me the chance to revisit long-stolen faves as well as indulge in guilty pleasures I'd never have allowed myself to buy back then. Recent additions such as Spandau Ballet, the Thompson Twins and Taylor Dane would've all been off limits to a certain kind of music snob (my best friend recently reminded me I used to chide her for listening to pop music) in the '80s.
A locked door on a candy store
That's what you are
So now the world knows, I even picked up a Paul Carrack album. I feel like only Holmes will give me credit for that.
Another pleasure of the $1 bins is the chance they offer to go deeper on music I only know about superficially. I now own Roberta Flack, the Chi-Lites and the Dazz Band, for whatever that's worth. And the Dramatics' album, hell, I've already played that 3 or 4 times in the 30 hours I've owned it.
Some people are made of plastic
And, you know, some people are made of wood
Some people have hearts of stone
Some people are up to no good
But, baby, I'm for real
I'm as real as real can get
Back from interviewing two artists at a church (after going to the wrong church initially because apparently all churches are the same to me), I found an email from my 84-year old Dad with the subject line "Music." What's this?
"Are you familiar with a song "Black Coffee in Bed" by Squeeze?"
I'm a tad surprised at this inquiry, but assure him I do know Squeeze (although I only own them on CD, not album) and inquire if he likes them.
"Indeed! I have to get the CD that has 'Black Coffee in Bed' on it!"
This new-found enthusiasm for Squeeze cracks me up, so I send him the link to buy the CD still pondering why a New Wave band's song spoke to my father. Could it be he can relate to black coffee in bed? I probably don't need to know.
Now she's gone
And I'm out with a friend
With lips full of passion
And coffee in bed
I only hope I'm still discovering music when I'm 84. And no matter my age, I know I'll still be wearing shorts every warm day that comes along, even in January.
Cause that's as real as real can get. And the real thing, I've been told, is the best thing yet.