Lockdown Birthday

Drive-by celebration.

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By Tim Clark

Back at home today, nothing new, nothing different. Nothings changed. The Corona Virus has painted everything in bland, boring shades of grey. Reality has become a monochrome kaleidoscope, vague shapes swirling into patterns of uniform insignificance.

Facebook has become a source of inspiration. You see proof that the people you know are alive. Sometimes it is easy to doubt that anybody is out there. I don’t know how many people it takes to bring you TVLand, (and we quit watching the news, Covid19 is the news and it is wearing thin) but it might be automated, it might run for years after everybody is gone. On Facebook, though, you get live updates. People going for a walk, a picture of somebody’s lunch, a furry friend playing with a ball or ball of twine. Little things, but huge things.

One of my wife’s co-workers asked people to drive by and honk to wish her son a happy thirteenth birthday. We jumped at the chance.

Shower, shave, dress, decide it is too much, dress again. “Do you think this is too casual?” “Do you think this will be too warm?” My wife found a birthday card and an iTunes gift card, everybody could use some iTunes money, we hoped.

Preen, fuss and prep. And then wait. The clock seemed to be stopped. Time crawled, sometimes it seemed to be going backward.

Twenty-five minutes took almost a whole day, but, it was finally time. We climbed in the car and took off.

On the way, we drove past the park. Recent, torrential rains had turned the creek into a river and most of the place was underwater. The walking paths were covered in many places, the baseball diamonds were submerged, it looked surreal, and threatening. We had talked about going for a stroll through the park on our way home, but that wasn’t going to happen.

We rounded the corner, and the parents were standing in the front yard. Not the son.

“Wait, wait here, we will go get him.” They shouted as the father rushed inside.

“No, we’ll drive around and come back. We want to be part of the drive-by.”

That’s what we did, circled the block and came back. The son was out there, thirteen, stuck in isolation with his parents and forced to watch people he didn’t really know drive past and holler happy birthday at him. He didn’t look impressed, in fact, he looked exactly as you would expect a thirteen-year-old to look in those unusual circumstances. His face was frozen somewhere between boredom and disbelief. I’m sure someday the birthday celebration will bring a smile to his face

I remember a quote from Frank Zappa, “Someday we’ll all probably be sitting around and look back on this and have a good laugh. If there’s anything left to set on.” This is probably the best advice for these days. Sometimes we need to look at things the way we will see them not the way they seem now. Frank Zappa was a smart man.

On the way home from the “party” we talked about dinner. Did we need to stop and get anything? We had been to the store once this week and that was probably enough.

I don’t know how bad this is going to get, but we have decided we aren’t going to make it worse. We went with something we had at home, barbecued ribs. We don’t really use a recipe, just charcoal, ribs, seasoning, barbecue sauce (whatever we happen to have on hand) and time, and we have plenty of that.

This story was previously published on The Good Men Project.

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