People on the Highway

My oldest son started at a new day care facility this week.  He has been incredibly excited and thrilled by the experience; meeting new friends, playing on the facility’s enormous playground, doing art projects galore.  It has been a good week for him.  Yesterday I actually got to drive him to the new place.  It was my first weekday morning drive in weeks and being out on the road was…oh, golly, it was glorious.  I missed the morning sun and the slow crawl of the highway as people found their way to their destinations.

I was also very happy to see an older model Ford Taurus.  The driver was older, wrinkled and stuck in a frown.  He had quite a story to tell.

Today’s tale: Grumpy Gramps

Driving a mid 2000s blood red Ford Taurus with a bumper sticker for the local library district is an old man that looks as though he has not smiled in months.  He’s a little shorter now than he was just ten years ago.  His hair has turned whispy and white, his skin wrinkled from a life well lived.  He’s about to make a left hand turn on his way to a doctor appointment that he does not want to go to, but men of a certain age must regularly visit their doctors he’s been told.

Compliance has never been this man’s favorite thing.  He was born at the end of World War 2, his parents called him Gene and he spent most of life just floating around with his guitar in hand.  He was 24 when Woodstock happened.  He was there, but doesn’t remember it.  A stained poncho still hangs in his closet, but he has not told a soul about it.  He never considered himself a hippy, just a music fan.

When disco came about in the 70s he found his pulse.  The thumping bass, the dance friendly nature, the scene that was all about community and having a good time.  Gene loved the 70s.  He spent the bicentennial at a disco he opened with his older brother.  The disco was in Cheyenne, Wyoming so it did not last too long after the demise of disco, but he remembers those days fondly.

He has kept up with dance music since then.  He’s a promoter now, booking clubs and bars for kids carrying laptops and “mixing machines” as he calls them.  The kids call him “Gramps” lovingly.  He calls them “dumbasses” not so lovingly.  He’s a bit of a grump, but so long as the kids spread the fun of dance tunes and he gets paid he’s happy enough.

Right now Gene is listening to a dubstep mix from a musician calling herself “DJ Sulfur Sodium Phosphorous.”  He waits for the beat to drop and when it comes he simply nods his head in approval.  Nothing really moves him anymore; not after his Dexys Midnight Runners phase.  He’ll call a club owner after the doctor appointment and get the DJ her first paid gig.  When he calls to tell her the news, she’ll be very happy and give a strings of thank yous.  He’ll say, “don’t be late,” and hang up.

What he never tells the kids he helps get gigs is that he attends every show.  He’ll stand in the back of the club with a whiskey in hand and bob his head along to the tunes.  He wears a wide brimmed hat, tinted glasses and a long coat to hide himself.  He’ll listen to the music and watch the crowd and smile ever so slightly.  He does not particularly enjoy the current state of dance music, but he loves the crowd of smiling youngsters.

When the show is over he walks back to his red Taurus and puts on some Bee Gees for the drive home.




Thanks for reading!


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