OK, so last week I’m packing for a well-earned weekend away. I’d been working more than usual—which is a good thing—and I’d committed like two months ago to a women’s retreat in Virginia. You’d think that I’d want to get away, but the more I worked, the less I wanted to do what it takes to get myself the 5 ½ hours to and from (not so) world-famous Goshen, VA. Staying at home, in the dark, in my bed, all weekend was looking pretty good to me. I swear, I’m so anti-social.
Anyway, not only did I agree to still go on the trip, I wound up volunteering to be the driver of a mini-van packed with five other women and all their pillows, overnight bags, lemon-scented skin products, and sale-priced fiber bars. The group promised to be a good one—chatty girls, great personalities, me just aiming the wheel in the right direction—so I was happy about that. As it turns out, I would really rather drive than ride, mainly because insecure me would rather navigate I-495 around Washington in a 10-mile rush hour snarl than navigate a 5 hour long social event. So really, it took the pressure off and I was glad for that.
But the way I saw it, there was at least one big hitch: music. No matter the group, there’s always a lull in the conversation, and you need a crowd pleaser to fill the void. Hence, my problem. What music in the world pleases a crowd anymore, especially a crowd of six church-going Christian women of various ages? Maybe contemporary Christian music, but, to be honest, I don’t listen to it, so I wouldn’t even know where to begin. Connie, who was riding shotgun, listens to Christmas music year round. Flora wants her funeral dirge to be Aretha’s “R-E-S-P-E-C-T.” Eclectic? Oh boy.
Needless to say, I was kind of stumped. So I took the first step into what turned out to be a discouraging, “I’m so incredibly unhip” quagmire: I went to the record store at the mall. This, I know, is pitiful. If I was hip, I’d have an iPod loaded up with a thousand songs that I’d downloaded from iTunes—songs that are relevant and catchy and have been released within the last decade. But, no, I still buy CDs and call them records. And not only do I buy CDs but I’m drawn like a super-powered electromagnet to greatest hits, soundtracks, and corny compilation CDs, especially the corny compilation CDs that they play over the speaker while you shop at places like Pier One Imports then sell at the counter for your listening pleasure—like I want my car to simulate my Pier One shopping experience. Wait, let me correct myself—like I want my MINI-VAN to simulate my Pier One shopping experience. In case you weren’t watching, we just moved from pitiful to pathetic, yes?
So I came home from the FYE store with (get this) The Essential Monkees, Aretha Franklin’s Greatest Hits, and (going out on a Christian limb here) The Rebirth of Kirk Franklin. Then I scanned my CD shelves at home (there’s not that many of them, trust me) and compiled the most white bread music assortment of all time. Seriously, I even threw in Simon and Garfunkel’s Greatest Hits. And I threw in the Time/Life Collection of the ’70’s for 1970, 1971, and 1972. I test ran Sgt. Pepper too, but, to be honest, I found the sex and drug references to be a little in-your-face this time around.
Gosh, I’m getting old.
Eventually, I landed on a live recording on Elvis’s 1972 Aloha concert, which opens with Thus Spake Zarathustra from 2001: A Space Odyssey and moves quickly into (I am not kidding you) Elvis channeling George Harrison with, “Something in the way she moves…” featuring the high-pitched, Star Trek-y “aah-aah-aah-ahhhh” girl in the background.
As it turns out, I loaned Elvis to another driver for the ride home. She said that before Elvis got to the end of “Suspicious Minds” she was going 85 miles an hour and breaking out in a little bit of a sweat. Ah, the power of Pantsuit Elvis.
So now that I’ve returned from my trip, I’m going to empty out the CD basket and put Mamma Mia, More Cowbell, and the Are We There Yet? driving collection from Hallmark back up on the shelf. I just ordered four new CDs from Amazon, featuring music I’ve never heard before from some artists that I’ve just become acquainted with. Maybe I’m going out on a limb here, but I don’t think so. Between my Amazon Reward Points and the 5-9 day Super Saver shipping, I’m only paying $3.68 for everything. (Is bargain shopping good for my new image? I don’t know.) What I do know is that I just had a meeting cancelled, so not only did I have time to shop for music online, I’ll also have time today to go out and look at the Blackberry I’ve been contemplating. I may even teach myself to text.
Yes, world, Cheryl Scheir has arrived.
Or at least she will arrive, via U.S. mail, in the next 5-9 working days.