Good Times Roll

Edit, March 30, 2020: Since making the post below, I’ve read this article, and have been thinking twice about the wisdom of gathering eight, ten, even twenty feet apart. It seems there’s still so much that isn’t known about the virus, so maybe it makes sense to exceed the recommendations of public health officials, out of an abundance of caution. So while we had a good time in our gathering, I don’t think I’d recommend it as a practice. Stay home, stay safe, folks…

Today, my sweety and I were out for a walk in the sun, remaining socially-distant from, well, not very many people, as there were not many out, despite the glorious rays from the sun. It was so bright, my cheeks feel a little rosy from walking nearly an hour in it! (As an aside, I’ve noticed people are being very responsible about keeping their distance when out walking, but almost all look down and won’t make eye contact or, heaven forbid, say “hello” as they meet up with you. And yes, we need to maintain social distance and #stayathome if we can (some can’t) but we can still acknowledge each other at a distance, despite the coronavirus.)

On our way back home from the walk, talking to one neighbour, we saw our next-door neighbours leaving for a family run. A while later, they texted:

Them: You guys home?

Us: yes

Them: Lawn cocktail?

Us: sure!

We met out on our front yard, and after standing around at that awkward distance for a few minutes, I put out two folding chairs for them while Sweety and I sat on our front steps. They then moved the chairs to about ten feet away from us and settled in (well, the dad was playing catch with the kids, so he was in and out of our yard, but sat down eventually).

There are three couples on our block that have been very closely connected for pretty well all of the 18 years Sweety and I have lived on the street.

As we parted to make our families’ evening meals, today’s song came into my mind.

We’ve always had a lot of fun with the neighbours, and today’s impromptu gathering was evidence of that. We’d talked in the last week of having a “virtual happy hour” on Zoom to socialize in this temporary, new reality we’re all dealing with. Today seemed like a good time to let the “good times roll” and be together to catch up on what’s been happening for each other for the past many weeks (it recently being winter, we have not caught up much in person, lately).

Thinking of the song, it reminded me of taking The Cars’ self-titled, debut LP over to a friend’s place in the summer of 1978, shaking with excitement as I was one of the first in my city to own it (it arrived at the record store one day that day I was there), and I couldn’t wait to share it with them. I still remember sitting there with the guys in my friend’s bedroom, all of them sitting stunned hearing this wild, new band with a sound unlike anything we were used to.

“Let the good times roll
Let them knock you around
Let the good times roll
Let them make you a clown

Let them leave you up in the air
Let them brush your rock and roll hair
Let the good times roll”

(from “Good Times Roll,” by Ric Ocasek)

(As an aside, it’s hard to believe that both of the primary singers of this band, guitarist Ric Ocasek and bassist Benjamin Orr, are no longer with us.)

But back to the present; we all must be very cautious these days, and I’m heartened by the fact that it seems like everyone in my close community is taking the social distancing protocol seriously. We all want to flatten the curve, slow the spread of this thing so as not to overwhelm our health-care system all at once.

For a retired couple like us, the COVID-19 pandemic has not changed our lives nearly as much as it has for others, and Sweety and I genuinely feel for everyone struggling with jobs/job loss, kids, obligations and the complexities of this time. We’ve been able to creatively manage most of ours, though the connection with our kids, who are adults and live separately from us, and grandkids, is more complex, for sure. 

It’s essential to keep connected, but please be safe when you do that. I have been observing folks’ social responses and, for the most part, have been really impressed with how careful people are being and, from conversations, it seems like most are doing that for others as much as for themselves. Maybe our society will come out of this with a better sense of connectedness and caring for one another. I am optimistic. And, that outcome would be a great reason to crank up a song like, “Good Times Roll” when Public Health officials finally confirm when we are through this. But still carefully, of course.

Tomorrow, we hope to have all three of the neighbourhood couples together for a ten-feet-apart lawn gathering. Years ago, we would meet up every Sunday night to have drinks and snacks while watching the TV series, Mad Men. For the first season finale, we all dressed up formally. (Well, almost all of us did. But I won’t go there right now… no time for shame.) We are great friends to one another and have been through many, many joys and sorrows together over the years. One of us even spent the day transporting a wedding gown around for the other some years back; there isn’t much we won’t do to support each other.

Now you know a little about why this is my song of the day for today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the official video of the song from The Cars’ YouTube channel:

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