Saturday, April 4, 2009

Drivin' and a-Rockin'

While heading up the hill to the county dump and recycling collection center, Led Zeppelin's "Heartbreaker" began. My weekly trip to drop off the latest pile of newspaper and plastic, accompanied by my weekly musing, "Why am I using gas to drive my recycling in? Isn't the environmentally a zero-sum game?" was happily intruded upon by two signature car and driving moments.

My first car, a 1979 blue Chevy Monza hatchback (mine didn't have that growth on the hood below), was a fairly unreliable vehicle, although it was a finely tuned machine compared to friend Jimmy's "Blue Pig" which, through a glaring lack of oil, caused us to be stranded on the New York State Thruway outside Poughkeepsie on our way to college orientation.

Driving around in my automobile, I found that whenever Ringo's drum solo from Side 2 of Abbey Road came on, I slammed out the beats on my steering wheel. Though Ringo's shining moment couldn't hold a candle to any Keith Moon track, it is in the pantheon of drum solos and, pretty easy to play along with as you drive. The solo was repeated countless times in the six years I owned the car, enough times that when it was sold the mechanic who checked it out asked, "Why is the steering wheel completely out of shape?" I was innocently unaware of how such a thing could occur.

That pounding is a relic of times gone by. Now, if the mood strikes, I batter the much sturdier dashboard. Lesson learned. The other rockin' while rollin' moment brings us back to Robbie and me and "Heartbreaker."

As we pulled out from the dump, I gave Rob warning.
"Want a glimpse into teenage me?"
"There's something I always do during this song."
"What is it?"
"Be patient"
A pause. "You're nervous and excited, aren't you?" I asked.
"Yes," he replied hesitantly.
"I kill everyone in the car whenever I hear this song."
"Oh no!"
"No, not really. Just wait for it."
In the split second before Jimmy Page's solo begins, I turned the volume up to full. The sound blasted right on cue and sounded as perfect as ever, so clear and so very loud.
When it was over, Robbie said, "I loved that. I'm going to do that every time I hear this too."
And so, a tradition is born.

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