I spent a bunch of time working in this massive defunct store, broken up into sections. I’d help my parents set up up and restock products, selling some costume jewelry or knickknacks from time to time.
Some of the other vendors believed that I thought I was better than they were. They would criticize me for using two- and three-syllable words. Yet my parents got along with these people just fine.
I was miserable. I even took up smoking, though “took up” would be overstating it a bit. I probably had a half a pack over the four months I was down there, trying desperately to fit in and failing badly.
One day, sister Marcia plugged in a jukebox I had not seen before. I don’t know if she had to put in coins, but I do know what it played, Carry On, Wayward Son by Kansas. And even in this cavernous building, the music was LOUD, almost deafeningly so.
Naturally, all the vendors in my area looked askance. I, on the other hand, did what I had seldom done in my time in Charlotte to that point: I laughed hysterically. That machine REALLY gave a good feeling to the bottom of that song, and it brought me joy for the 45 seconds it was on before either it was turned down or unplugged, I forget.
At the same time, it made a lot of sense lyrically, which I hadn’t thought about until the next day:
Masquerading as a man with a reason
My charade is the event of the season
And if I claim to be a wise man, it surely means that I don’t know
On a stormy sea of moving emotion
Tossed about I’m like a ship on the ocean
I set a course for winds of fortune, but I hear the voices say
Carry on my wayward son,
For there’ll be peace when you are done
Lay your weary head to rest
Don’t you cry no more
Interestingly, I never owned the song until I bought a greatest hits CD considerably later.