THE OPPENHEIMER REPORT (May 3, 2021)
Our puppy Sydney is just a little over a year old now, and she was finally spayed a week ago last Wednesday. Our last two breeders both suggested that we wait for our miniature schnauzer to go through at least one heat before being spayed, and so we waited a few weeks past her second estrus. Our Veterinarian is located down in Gravenhurst, one hour from our home, and although she prefers to keep dogs overnight following this particular surgery, I asked that Shauna Leigh and I be permitted to bring Sydney back home the very same day. She agreed, but only after keeping the patient in the clinic for 7 hours following the operation, in order to keep watch on her in case of any ensuing complications. As a result, I remained down in Gravenhurst from 9:00am until 6:30pm. In the midst of a lockdown on a Wednesday, Gravenhurst is not exactly a busy cultural centre. The optimist that I am, I envisioned myself having a lovely picnic in the local waterfront park and perhaps reading a good book. As it turned out, winter made a comeback that day and the weather was cold and, as the Irish say, desperate.
Shortly after I left Sydney at the clinic, I went for a long walk from one end of town to the other, figuring it was a productive way to spend 1 of my 9 hours there. Under normal circumstances, I would have popped in for a few hours to pester and visit with my friend Andrew Currie over at Currie’s Music, but the lockdown prohibited that. As luck would have it, as I walked by the music store, I saw Andrew’s brother Rob and their father Ted, entering the store, along with Rob’s dog “Muffin The Dragon Slayer”. For a moment, I considered calling out to them. One of the unfortunate side effects of this prolonged pandemic is that it has redefined the rules for social engagement. I no longer feel comfortable initiating a chat with someone, and especially not from 6-8 feet away. Rob and I have been talking about recording one of my original songs in his studio. Because my song, “A Dead Man’s Clothes” was written about our mutual friend, the late James Carroll, I thought it would be meaningful to record it with the Currie Brothers at Rob Currie Recording. Alas, another project had to be put on hold due to COVID-19. I walked to the other end of town, and when I got back to Currie's Music, I decided to do some window shopping for exotic guitars. From across the street, someone was calling my name and, to my surprise, it was Andrew Currie. He was having a socially-distanced conversation with another local entrepreneur. I walked across the street and ended up talking to the two of them for a few minutes. Speaking to people through a mask and from a distance feels weird, but it was therapeutic to have any face-to-face, human interaction. We covered all the latest local music news, commiserated with each other about the sorry state of human behavior in general, solved the problems of the world, and then, when the cold, damp air had thoroughly chilled us to the bone, we parted company. I’ve had so few human interactions in the past year, other than with Shauna Leigh, that it was refreshing and delightful to have the opportunity to actually interact with a friend, face to face.
These days, it seems as if, with so little human interaction to mark the passage of time, a year has simply vanished. Tonight, as we do every week, Shauna and I will play The Bay 88.7FM Super Jackpot Radio Bingo, amusing ourselves with the silly shoutout texts that Jeff reads on-air. And then, before I know it, Thursday evening will roll around, and I’ll be broadcasting another LYRICAL WORKERS show. Then Sunday will arrive, and I’ll produce ET’s MARTINI MUSIC show, and then the new week will begin with a new Oppenheimer Report. Months pass by in the blink of an eye. I am reminded of that old cinematic image of a newspaper spinning through space, to connote the passage of time. I’m beginning to look a little like Rip Van Winkle, as my lockdown beard begins to grow bushier. Maybe I’ll hack it off once I finally receive my vaccination, hopefully in a few days from now, but maybe I won’t. Maybe I’ll ape the Billy Gibbons “ZZ Top” look. I’m well along the way. When will I awaken from this grey, Rip Van Winkle dream, and what will be different when I do?
After my conversation with Andrew, I walked back to my car to warm up, and waited for the Vet’s assurance that everything went okay with Sydney’s surgery. Once I got that call, I headed over to the waterfront park and sat in my car looking out at the stark vacancy of the grey spring day. Staring at the empty “barge” bandshell out on the water, I thought of all the live concerts that had entertained listeners for generations in that old Muskoka town. I imagined a sunny, hot summer day, with a park full of happy people, enjoying the community of good, live music. Someday soon, I hope we’ll be back to those better times. In the meantime, it wasn’t all that bad, spending a day waiting for something tangible and hopeful; the surgery was a success and our pup returned back home with us, thanks to the good folks at Chidiac Animal Hospital. By the way, Sydney is back to her tail-wagging, mischievous, facial-tissue-snatching self again.
Written by Jamie Oppenheimer ©2021 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED