Picking up my car [see photo below—no, not that one, all the way at the bottom] at the shop—inspection, brakes, wheels balanced, suspension and things—and the guy says, “You take the train here from work, don’t you, from in town? That work out for you?”
“Yeah, but I caught it at Temple today.”
“Oh, what do you do at Temple?”
Note the nuance: not, “What do you take at Temple?” or, “What do you study at Temple?” or even, “Do you teach there?” but “What do you do at Temple?”: Remarkably diplomatic, as I am well past the time when I could be confused with a student, yet for some reason I do not look like a professor—a younger or older professor—to this guy at the shop, who’s 28, 30. This will haunt me. Why it should haunt me also haunts me.
“I work at the radio station there sometimes.”
He smiles. “Yeah, you got that ‘I work at a radio station’ look about you.” (Laughs.)
I have no idea what that means. Make that three haunts. “Yeah.” (Laugh.)
“So what do you do there?”
“A radio show, a couple actually, we play music.”
I would make this up? “Yeah.”
“I was thinking like a talk show or something.”
“Or something,” ha!, I wonder what something… WAIT, this is what I look like, like I do a talk show? I look like Johnny Carson? “Nope, music.”
“’Cause I was thinking? That Howard Stern, you know? He’s funny. Crazy, you know?”
“He sure is popular.” I make myself sound studiedly noncommittal… WAIT, I look like Howard Stern? And WAIT, that’s his conception of what a talk show host looks like? And WAIT, I THOUGHT JOHNNY CARSON? What am I, 97? Haunt #4.
“So, what kind of music?”
Here we go. “Oh, classical.”
“Classical? You’re kidding!”
I’m such a kidder. “Yeah, we do jazz and classical at the station, and I’m on the classical side.”
“All right!” What? “I like classical.” What?
“Really?” He would make this up?
“Oh yeah. Wait, you mean like Mozart, right?”
Get that. For talk show he thinks Howard Stern, yet he’s concerned that his Mozart is not my classical. Well, now that he mentions it, okay, there’s Baroque, Romantic, Post-Minimalist, Seconda prattica, Second Viennese, No Wave, um…
“Yeah. Like Mozart.”
“Yeah he’s cool. I got him on at home all the time.”
“He’s cool”? I’m so out of it I think Johnny Carson, and even I don’t say anybody’s “cool.” Wait. Yes. He is cool. Mozart. And this guy. This guy at the shop, what is he, 28, 30? I think I just got an education. What do I do at Temple? Well, whatever it is, I need to keep doing it. For the Howard Stern fans. Oh, and the car’s running great. [For obvious budgetary and insurance reasons my employers won’t allow me to show my actual car, but it’s similar to the one pictured below. It was made in the same decade.]