A Hairy Tale of 2 Jersey Boys

2 Jersey Boys – Bruces Springsteen and me – getting together in Georgia

This article article is part of an ongoing series of life in the Pandemic 2020

By Dave Price (5/29)

While this current worldwide pandemic has been both terrifying and deadly, it has been teaching us just how much we have in common. For the coronavirus is no respecter of status, talent, wealth, or fame – it is an equal opportunity presenter of problems.

Take the case of Bruce Springsteen and me.

Now even before the COVID-19 crisis, Mr. Springsteen and myself shared several things in common. We are both Baby Boomers, although at age 70 Bruce is two years older than me. We were both born in New Jersey. We both spent our teenage years playing dances at our high school and then performing at clubs and bars at the Jersey shore. In the 1970s, we both had concert shows at Villanova University, where I graduated in 1973.

But then our careers diverged. Bruce Springsteen went on to become one of the leading rock stars in music history. Because of his prodigious talent, Bruce accumulated status, wealth, and fame. Because of my lack of his talent, I was reduced to playing keyboard as a sideline in some of New Jersey’s always loud, but never legendary classic rock cover bands.

But now Bruce and I have been reunited. Because of the widespread closings as America tries to control the spread of .the coronavirus, we have both been forced to have our wives cut our hair.

Actually, this is not the first time Judy has been my barber. From 1971 until I began my reporting in 1974, she would be the sole person responsible for periodically (as in rarely) trimming my hair.

The mid 1970’s however was the time period was where our two roads began to diverge. While I was enjoying my $80-a-week first journalism job, Bruce signed a big record company advance, a deal he sings about in some detail in his beloved song “Rosalita”.

But now, as I mentioned earlier, our hair, at least as far as cutting it is concerned, has reunited us once again.

Here is the cut that Jersey girl Patti gave Bruce.

And here is the trim that Jersey girl Judy gave me. Uh-oh … that’s Judy’s  psycho look. Oh no … I think she’s going to stab me.

Of course, even there, you have to offer Bruce the upper hand. His haircut made the national news. I had to write this article myself to even let anybody know that Judy was back to cutting my hair.
But that’s not at all bad. As everyone from Jersey knows, Bruce is the Boss, and as I can’t think of anyone else who I would rather have eclipse – or maybe in this case e-clips – me than Bruce Springsteen.

Of yeah. If you get around to reading this Bruce, you have promised to throw the biggest party ever when we can finally get back to live performances. And you know I’ll be there. Maybe before or after the show, we can get together and compare haircuts.

Grocery Shopping in a Pandemic

This article article is part of an ongoing series of life in the Pandemic 2020

By Dave Price (4/04)

As recently as two months ago, if my wife had said we were going grocery shopping at 6, I would have said fine. We’ll do that and then come home and fix dinner.

Today, we did go grocery shopping at 6. But it was 6 a.m., not 6 p.m. And why, when I have always been a night person, would I go shopping at that absurdly early hour, you ask? Well, you can chalk it up to another change in our new normal world prompted by Covid-19.

Last week, the Harris Teeter where we shop announced the store would be opening from 6 a.m. to 7 a.m. for seniors only on Mondays and Thursdays. That way, those of us in the age group identified as most at risk from serious, sometimes fatal consequences from the virus could shop when the store was less crowded.

So far, at least, Judy and I continue to go once a week for groceries. Now a lot of people have opted for home delivery or curbside pickup, but I’ve never minded grocery shopping and it is the only outing of the week where we actually get to see some people other than when we take our daily exercise walks.

So what is it like 65-and-over grocery shopping at 6 a.m.?

Here are some of the highlights:

Outside the store, there were both wiping cloths and sanitizer to take care of your grocery cart before you entered. There was a clerk there if you needed help.

There was a total of 10 customers in the store, 3 couples and 4 single shoppers. It’s the only time I’ve been in Harris Teeter when the workers outnumbered the customers.

The clerks in our store are always friendly and helpful, but they were especially so today.

Everyone shopping kept their distance as recommended with social distancing guidelines.

We were behind one couple in the checkout line. Soon, two single shoppers were standing behind us. Quickly, a second clerk opened a register so the line could be reduced.

The biggest change in shopping from last week concerned bagging. For more than 25 years, we have been taking cloth bags to the grocery store as part of our concern for the environment. At Harris Teeter, it had been standard that the clerks would bag for us. Today, however, that policy was no longer in effect. Customers were expected to do their own bagging, which Judy and I did with no problem.

Now the focus recently has been on what items stores do not have. But being inquisitive by nature and occupation, I have been checking out what appears not to be moving. And I feel safe in saying that one such item appears to be cream of asparagus soup. Each time we have visited the store, there have been 16 cans of that soup on the shelves, compared to the absence or scarcity of more popular soups like chicken noodle or tomato.

That was true today. The count stood at 0 cans of tomato soup, 4 cans of chicken noodle and 16 cans of cream of asparagus. I guess most people just don’t find cream of asparagus soup “mmm mmm good” and I know I am at the top of that list.

Overall, except for having to get out of bed at 5:30 a.m. (I mean who even knew there was a 5:30 a.m.?), our shopping excursion went well. We were back at our apartment complex with our groceries by 7:10. By 7:30 they were put away. 

But our adventure did leave me with one question. Do you think 8 a.m. is too early for a nap?

Finding Toilet Paper and Hand Sanitizer Like a Steve McQueen Great Escape

This article article is part of an ongoing series of life in the Pandemic 2020

By Dave Price (3/17)

The movie that has been on my all-time Top 10 favorite list the longest is the World War II 1963 classic The Great Escape, starring Steve McQueen and James Garner.

In the film, based on the true story of a POW escape from a German prisoner of war camp, McQueen played motorcycle-riding, baseball-loving, authority-hating American escape artist and Cooler King named Captain Hilts, while Garner portrayed the camp scrounger, Hendley.

I first saw the movie as an impressionable 11-year-old and now, 57 years later, I still can see traits I picked up from McQueen’s character in my personality. But today, in the new COVID-19 normal, I feel sometimes feel more like Garner’s character, scrounging in grocery stores and pharmacies for 3 of the DC-area’s least available commodities – toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and wipes.

The Great Escape Trailer
This past week, my Garner training came in handy as I scored 2 of the biggies – a 16-roll package toilet paper and not one, but 2, small bottles of hand sanitizer.

The Toilet Paper Caper
When I popped in one of the 2 Harris Teeter supermarkets within a mile of our apartment complex, the toilet paper shelves were empty, as they had been for days. This was disturbing since we were down to our last 2 replacement rolls. But, walking by the customer courtesy desk, I discovered the store still had a few toilet paper packages stashed there to keep a better handle on who was buying the bathroom necessity, which could now be bought only in limited quantities.

Proud of my purchase, I didn’t bag the toilet paper and walked the near mile to our complex with the package under my left arm.

The toilet paper proved to be one of the greatest conversation starters I had ever worn or carried., even more so than the my collection of anti-Trump T-shirts. People kept asking me – where did you find that? I told them and a few of them actually headed off in the direction of the Harris Teeter.

Our area is home to a lot of soldiers who work in the Pentagon, and one in uniform, a giant smile on his face, offered, “Hey, you want me to escort you home so nobody can take that?”

Another friendly fellow pedestrian jokingly said he would trade his wife, but not his dog, for 4 rolls of what I was carrying “Better than a six-pack of beer,” another chimed in.

The Sanitizer Search Ends (For Now)
But I was even prouder of my scrounging find later in the week of hand sanitizer, since I truly did employ some of Garner-as-Hendley’s suave charm to secure that.

There is a CVS store across the highway from our complex and I had made it a habit to pop in there once a day on one of my exercise walks always asking the same question – any sanitizer come in yet? Of course, by visiting with such frequency, I formed a relationship with 2 managers and one of the cashiers.

On Wednesday, one of the managers motioned me to follow her into an aisle.  “You know, we don’t have any of what you’re looking for today,” she whispered conspiratorially. “But we’re getting a store shipment tomorrow. If you come back right around this time, you may find what you’re looking for”.

Next day, of course, I showed up, but 15 minutes after the suggested time. The manager proceeded to walk behind the front desk and produce not one, but 2 small bottles of sanitizer. She handed me both. “I kept these for you, but if you hadn’t come in just now, they would have gone back on the shelf.”

I thanked her sincerely.  I would have probably paid just about any amount for the sanitizer, since we were down to one small bottle. But they were only $1.79 each. No price gouging here at CVS. I purchased the sanitizer, hid the bottles in my pocket, and walked out of the store.

Now finding a 16-pack of toilet paper and later 2 bottles of hand sanitizer isn’t anywhere near as important or exciting as escaping from a German prison camp. But at the risk of appearing overly dramatic, I do admit I whistled the theme song to The Great Escape all the way back to our apartment on both occasions.

More About The Great Escape
If You Haven’t Seen It, Now That We”re All Sheltering in Our Homes This Would Be A Good Time to Check It Out
The Theme Music