With four arms signaling those musicians it was utter perfection, and just as the music was reaching its climax, the traffic signal changed and with shared grins our hands went quickly to the steering wheels and we went on about our separate ways.
I often conduct music this way, but mostly I simply beat out the rhythm with my hands, and only occasionally give a flourish with my arms. And yes, I’ve sometimes noticed the next-car-driver give me a definite ‘what’s wrong with you’ look, or at times one will smile and then swiftly take their eyes back to their car as if they had intruded upon me in some private moment.
But this time, it was different. That young man and I were one with with the station we were listeing to and both enjoying the moment and it became a joyous rarity in life. One I shall remember.
Truthfully, I think I was more active in my ‘conducting’ than he was, but after all, I grew up watching Bernstein and there was nothing restrained about his arm work. But even without any early training, there was nothing haphazard about my twin conductor’s arm work, either.
Those shared moments were so good that I went my way thinking how odd it is that though we are so close to others in our cars, seldom do we look into the other driver’s eyes. In truth, we avoid doing so, and if by chance we do happen to lock eyes, we quickly glance away as if it were an intrusion.
Yet, most of us are friendly human beings and we just might like each other immensely if we met in some other way, but it’s as if it’s been drilled into us that it’s a no-no to have eye contact with other drivers. Except, of course, when our fenders meet, but that’s another story.
Children aren’t so up-tight. Before they had to be strapped in for safety sake, kids would look out a back window and wave, smile or make faces at you, and if we waved or grinned back, they’d giggle, stick their tongues out, and darned if we didn’t drive away with a happy feeling. But again, rules . . . yeah, even safety rules . . . have put a stop to that bit of hi-way fun.
Just the same, it does happen, to you and to me, and another time it happened to me and was so unusual that I remember it year’s later. I was at a red light and there was a man in the car aside mine eating a banana. I laughed as I caught him with it sticking straight out his mouth, and with a grin, banana still in his mouth, he reached to the seat beside him, picked up another banana and reached it out to me.
Of course there were windows, and a hi-way strip between us, and the light changed, and it was all over, but again it was a definite human contact with unspoken, but shared laughter and I felt happy and think he did, too.
Now, I don’t know why we feel embarrassed if we look into some other driver’s eyes, but if it happens, take a chance as I did.
You too might share the podium with another, or a banana, cup of coffee, or perhaps just a smile. But if the S.L. Symphony Orchestra is ever in a pinch for a guest conductor, I know of two who would step right in and, according to me, do a bang-up job, as well.