I’m writing this on the fly, because…cold and flu season.
I’ve been down for over two weeks. One more week stuck in this bed, and I swear I’m going to lose my mind.
The other day, a commercial or tweet brought up, “Easy like Sunday morning,” and instantly, I thought back to a time when I was “free to know the things I do are right,” when the Commodores played hit after hit on AM radio, and the boy literally next door (and across the street) fell in love with me — the first boy.
His name was Bobby. Bobby had the bluest sky-blue eyes ever and eyelashes the color of snow on a windswept morning, almost see-through. Tall, lanky, and shy, I fell hard for him, too. I’d associate the Commodores hit song, “Easy,” with him until the day I draw my last breath.
It wasn’t until the birth of a new kind of Hulu series that I heard “Easy” again, in quite another context.
Serena Joy played a vinyl of the song on her record player before she and Offred dove into the serious business of leading a brand new world on the harrowing fictional snuff piece known as “The Handmaid’s Tale.”
Until then, the two strong female characters violently hated each other, as prison guard and prisoner under a warped Christian patriarchy — Gilead — that would make Hitler cringe.
Under the mellow spell of “Easy,” however, the two enemies became allies for the cause, the wife of Commander Fred recognizing his concubine as the editor of her former days, and June Osborne recognizing her baby-crazed kidnapper as a leader/televangelist in her own right, capable of much more.
For me and countless others, that Commodores song represents the precious commodity of freedom in all its incarnations: freedom to be who you want to be, do what you want to do, fall in love, write the outline of a new constitution for a new nation, see people for who they really are for the first time.
I never really gave the concept of freedom much thought. I always felt it was for other people, outgoing, dynamic people doing outgoing, dynamic things like leading nations, a company, PTA meeting, doing important shit, while worker bees like me stayed in the background and cleaned up afterward.
But freedom included me. I know that now.
Just the act of walking downstairs into the kitchen to make myself a Nutella and banana sandwich, blasting the stereo to the Commodores’ greatest hits, and dancing around in my underwear — in the middle of the night — was freedom.
If I wanted to put my boots on and walk in the snow outside, well, that too.
Or, sit here with you and Lionel Richie, as I try to wrangle the right words to express what one song from the summer of 1977 meant to me, moving away from that boy next door, back to Hawaii on the verge of 13, staying at Holiday Inn near the airport, ordering pancakes and pretending my world didn’t just end…the crazy flip of the guitar in that billowy bridge, those perfect lyrics that summed up the sum total essence of my life in training… how badly I yearned to be “Easy like Sunday morning,” just like Bobby — before 9/11 blew him up, too.
Every time I hear “Easy,” I have this unreasonable urge to drop whatever I’m doing, grab a steaming mug of dark roast, kick back with a thick book, and chill out in my backyard in the woods, occasionally glancing up at the birds and later, the stars, remembering a boy who once made me feel beautiful, loved, and free.