Artist's Lane: As the world zooms


By Betty Slade

PREVIEW Columnist

My Sweet Al dropped his shoulders and looked like a lost little boy. “It’s almost over.”

He looked how I would imagine him to look after his mother called him for supper and told him to put away all of his toys.

As for me, when I heard the words, “It’s almost over,” I did a happy dance right there in the living room.

“It’s about time. I’ve had just about all I can take of this NASCAR thing. It’s three or four races a week plus preshow and postshow commentary.”

I should be more supportive of his pastime, but I’m not. Last week, my Sweet Al was sitting in his easy chair, remote in hand, staring at a blank television screen. 

“What’s wrong?” I asked. 

“I watched the whole race with only six laps to go and the DVR cut off. Now I don’t know who won.”

I suppose I could have Googled the answer, but decided to put my foot to the pedal instead. 

“I am trying to finish my next book. I cannot be on call worrying about your race. All you need to do is hit the microphone button on the remote and tell it what you want.”

As I started to leave the room, my Sweet Al picked up the remote and said, “Can you tell my wife to tell me who won the race today?”

I have never known anyone to get as frustrated over racing as my husband. Especially, if there is a rain delay or a race is postponed for one reason or another. After all, it’s just a bunch of cars going around in circles a few hundred times. What is so exciting about that?

In his defense, he doesn’t complain when I sit at my desk writing until late in the night. In fact, rare is a word spoken when I am on video conference three or four times a week, although we do have the occasional meeting of the minds.

“My Zoom is not the same as your zoom. I’m being productive. You’re just watching cars drive by. Me, I’m changing the world.”

“My driver won a million dollars today. How much did you make on your last book?”

After 60 years of marriage, I have learned when to put it in park. Besides, maybe my next book should be about racing. 

The other morning over breakfast, Al couldn’t stop talking about a documentary that he had watched the night before. It was about the men who outran the sheriff transporting moonshine across county lines. His family is from the south and has a history of “running.” I guess he thought that if he gave racing enough context and historical value, I might sit down and watch a race with him. 

I hate to say it, but it was the only thing that came to mind. “You are not in ‘The Dukes of Hazzard’ and the closest thing you’ll get to driving a tricked-out engine is your lawn mower. And, no, I am still not interested in watching a NASCAR race with you.”

Our children, who take up for their dad at every turn, tell me I need to be more sensitive. They want me to make him a snack and then sit with him and his dog while they eat and watch the race. 

Enough is enough. Next, they will be telling me to dress up like Daisy Duke in a tied-up skimpy red shirt and cutoffs. 

Final brushstroke: I guess we all need to respect each other’s zoom. For some, it’s where boys want to be boys, even at 84 years old, pretending they are in the driver’s seat going 200 miles per hour in 130-degree heat. For me, it’s a social connection. A prayer group, a Bible study or a time to meet with fellow authors. Thankfully, we have evolved from the days of moonshine. But, to keep peace, like it or not, sometimes we just have to go along for each other’s ride. 

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