Monday, March 26, 2018

In a parking lot in the Bronx. (A musical interlude.)

Last Sunday I spent an hour alone with Whiskey in my 1966 Simca 1600 parked in the Fairway parking lot on the Bronx/Pelham border, waiting in the car while my wife did a $400 Passover shop.

It’s not that I don’t like to go grocery shopping. We just don’t leave Whiskey alone, so I turned on the radio, rolled down the windows and read the “New York Times,” on my iPhone 3.

There was a large late-model Buick SUV backed into the space alongside me. This configuration meant we were driver’s-side-window-to-driver’s-side-window next to each other.

I had WNYC on the FM and the host, Paul Cavalconte, one of the great voices of New York radio was playing what’s known as the American song-book. Coincidentally, the guy in the Buick also had on WNYC and we had a fairly-nice quadrophonic sound going.

I think, Jo Stafford, one of my favorites was singing something mellow like “Moonlight in Vermont.” I looked over to the Buick and the old man in the driver’s seat had two drum-sticks and was accompanying the orchestra, brushing gently with the sticks on his leather-wrapped steering wheel.

Cavalconte shifted from Stafford to something upbeat and fast-paced—and the drummer started beating on his steering wheel and dash to the tempo. It might have been "Busted" by Ray Charles.

“You’re pretty good,” I said looking up to him. (My Simca is a small car, and his Buick, large. He was a good two-feet higher than I.)

“I’m just messing around,” he laughed.

“Do you play in a band,” I asked.

“Every Saturday night. I’m 75. But I want to do this another 15 years.”

“That’s great.”

“I play with all the old-timers,” he said, “But I do most of my playing right here, waiting for my wife.”

“I know all about that,” I answered.

Just then his ever-loving arrived with a cart spilling over with groceries. He pulled the truck out so she could load them in the back.

“Maybe she bought you a piece of cake,” I yelled to his window.

He laughed a full body laugh, drummed out a “Venture-like” solo. 

"Piece of cake," he laughed.

Then he drove out of the lot and into the Bronx.

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