It was no time to talk about politics.
I get up hideously early two days a week to lift weights and lurch my way through a 7AM boxing class at the New York Sports Club’s City Hall gym and the greeting from the young lady behind the desk--we’ll call her Kathy—is one of the few bright spots of my pre-dawn morning.
She’s quite pretty, with dyed blond hair, belly button ring, and cool little glasses that makes her look both nerdy and sexy at same time—just the right ingredients to make a geezer like yours truly get all hot and bothered.
I like to kid around with her when I sign in, and though she’s always polite, I’m getting a vibe that says something along the lines of here’s your towel, gramps, now go punch yourself in the head and have a nice day. But I might be wrong.
On Tuesday Kathy caught me off guard by diverting from the usual pleasantries.
“It’s election day,” she said.
“Oh, that’s right,” I replied, having completely forgotten. “Vote for me and I’ll set you free!”
Kathy burst out laughing upon hearing this and I could tell by the volume and enthusiasm of her reaction that she thought I had come up with this line on the spot, which I definitely had not.
I hesitated for just a half-second, savoring her joyful admiration, before confessing the truth like a good like Catholic neurotic.
“That’s not mine,” I blabbed. “That’s a line from an old song by the Temptations called ‘Ball of Confusion.’ Check YouTube.”
Kathy gave some kind of vague response and I highly doubt that she’ll research this Motown hit, but the song started playing in my head and it kept going all day long.
Written in 1970, “Ball of Confusion” was a musical commentary of the world at the time, railing about segregation, determination, demonstration, integration, aggravation, humiliation, and obligation to our nation.
The Temptations warned us that we could run, run, but we sure couldn’t hide, and how right they were.
And the Band Played On…
I don’t think it’s one of their best songs, but at the time it came out I thought it painted a depressingly accurate description of this poor planet’s condition.
Little did I know that someday I would like back fondly on the Seventies and consider that period an age of enlightened thinking in comparison with the modern medieval morass we are currently suffering through.
Fanatics didn’t crash jetliners into buildings back then. You could still count the number of mass shootings in America on one hand, the polar bears didn’t have to worry about drowning in the Artic, and people weren’t getting killed trying to take selfies.
We didn’t even have selfies back then…or cell phones…or the Internet. There was no Twitter, no Instagram or Facebook, and no blogging, so people like me had to keep journals or inflict our views upon the world one victim at a time.
People didn’t fabricate stories about the pyramids being storage containers for grain, those who didn’t believe in evolution were rightfully regulated to the sidelines, and elected "leaders" at least tried to work together.
Upon reflection, the Seventies look pretty tame—if you just overlook Vietnam, Kent State, Richard Nixon and all that graffiti on the subways.
Old timers like to blather on about the good old days, but what bothers me is that I thought we had reached rock bottom back then, only to see now that we still had a long way to drop. I don’t want to think about what’s coming next.
I’m glad I didn’t take credit for the Temptations’ work. It was nice giving Kathy a laugh without adding plagiarism to my list of offenses.
And it so was good of her to remind me about my civic duty, because Election Day is one of the few opportunities we get to try and bring some order to this ball of confusion.
But it’s just occurred to me that I forgot to vote on Tuesday.