Today I had to deliver my daughter, the Princess, to her high school in the rain. It is hard enough make the circuitous trip to the west in order to go south and then east again through all the construction and roadwork going on with stupid people who are somehow allowed to drive a car and carry a gun in Texas even though they don’t know what a turn signal is for or that a speed limit sign shows the maximum rather than the minimum speed you should go at every red stoplight and corner without there being rain to obscure vision and make the mangled pavement slick. You have to be able to concentrate and perform like a virtuoso while driving to make it there alive. I would simply not be able to do it without the car radio.
The radio keeps me calm and gives my brain the power it needs to overcome obstacles. The jump across the river with the man-eating fish in it alone requires an energized brain and a cool head. I listen to oldies on the radio with KLUV in the mornings. It is how my children have come to love Don Henley and the Eagles as much as I do.
For the last seven years of my teaching career, I had to learn the hard way that music is critical to driving well, and driving well is the only way to stay alive on the mean streets of Dallas. I had a morning commute of 40 minutes, 30 miles, and 45 stoplights one way to my teaching job in Garland. I drove it starting at six in the morning to avoid traffic. But after school, I often had to labor for three hours through rush hour traffic on the way back home. I learned to switch the station to 101.1, the classical music station. Listening to Mozart and Beethoven not only makes you smarter, it makes you calmer. Calm enough not to get out of your car at the stop light and beat the guy in the car ahead of you with the detached bumper of your car that he knocked off while cutting in front of you because he was in the wrong lane to make the turn he needed to make and didn’t realize until 15 minutes into the wait for the red light to change enough times that our cars actually had a chance to make it through the intersection. Yes, that is a run-on sentence about road rage. And road rage is real. But in real life I didn’t beat him to death because of Mendelssohn playing on the car radio. It only played out that way in my head while the radio soothed my brain and prevented my hair from catching fire.
I owe my life and sanity to the car radio many times over. And I am resigned to the notion that I will probably need it many times more before the curtain closes the last time.