I know that sounds strange for a title, but the fact is, I’ve had a song running through my head for nearly a week–The Little Old Lady From Pasadena by Jan and Dean. Normally, this is a mere annoyance for me, and it happens all the time–I start singing in my brain, and often out loud, and there doesn’t seem to be anything for it but to wait until I can get rid of the compulsion.
In this case, I was walking by the house of my neighbor, Macho Man, whose favorite thing is to work in his garage with his shirt off, power saws whining, hammers pounding, power drills drilling, and so on. To be fair, I’ve been in MM’s house and he has, far and away, the neatest kitchen I’ve ever seen. But I digress.
As I say, walking past MM’s house, I saw a white, late-model car starting up and ready to leave his drive. Although I have left my hipness to new cars, I realized that this was, In the immortal words of Jan and Dean, “A brand new, shiny red” (well, it was white, but let’s not quibble) “Super-stock Dodge!” So, being the strange and eccentric individual I am, I walked over to the car and began to sing “The Little Old Lady from Pasadena.” These were perfect strangers, and one set drove away, the other set of people backed into the house, keeping their eyes on me all the time.
I chuckled at their expressions. They may never have heard a drag-racing song. It wouldn’t surprise me, because the sport was (a) dangerous, (b) ridiculously expensive, (c) preposterously noisy and (d) best observed on television. Still, my contemporaries and I entertained fantasies of fast cars, and my buddy John M. got hauled into court for trying to drag race on Dixie Highway in Chicago Heights. I’m sure the police were glad at the demise of drag racing.
Still, those songs were part of me and led me into the arts. I can still see John, and me, and two or three other guys sitting at the lunch table in the cafeteria at Bloom Township High School when we were–I’m guessing–seniors. We spent most of the lunch period debating what the lyrics of the Beach Boys song, “Shut Down”, were: “It happened on the strip where the road is wide, two cool sharks setting side x side, yeah my fuel injected Sting Ray and a 413.” My dad had a ’59 Plymouth–a true rat of a car that wouldn’t win a race against a soap box derby car–but ah, the fantasies. See you tomorrow.