Can’t stop the beat

It was my turn to checkout at the grocery store. The petite, dark-haired cashier hummed as she scanned bell peppers, eggs, and pork tenderloin over the flat glass.

“What are you humming,” I said.

“Oh, nothing in particular, just working to the beat,” she said.

“You can’t stop the beat,” I said and pressed a button on my phone.

Notes from “You Can’t Stop the Beat,” Broadway’s Hairspray finale, filled the space between the cashier and me. The eyes of the teenage girl who bagged my items grew wide behind her round glasses.

Thoughts flew through the strawberry-blonde’s mind: “What the heck?” “Now, I’ve seen it all.” “This customer is nuts.”

Maybe so, but a fun kind of “nuts,’ I hope.

Beside the embarrassed bagger, the cashier swayed to the music and joined me in singing the song.

“I love Hairspray,” she said.

I can read your mind. I can. “How,” you ask, “did I find a random Broadway tune so quickly.”

I can thank Louisa for that. Louisa is my five-month-old baby grand. She has her own playlist on my phone. Shortly after Louisa was born, we discovered her fondness for The Sound of Music, most notably Julie Andrews singing “Do Re Mei.”

If my baby grand gets fussy, I press Frankie Valli’s “Big Girls Don’t Cry” on her playlist. Works every time.

One rainy day, I carried Louisa out from under the protection of our front porch roof. Raindrops plopped on our heads and tickled our arms while B. J. Thomas crooned “Raindrops keep falling on my head….”

Louisa has great taste in music.

I often harp on the negatives of communication technology, but one of the positives is that our music is always one touch away.

Gary keeps a speaker beside his bathroom sink. He tunes in to his favorite Pandora stations—Gary Puckett & the Union Gap, The Beatles, The Zombies—every morning when he shaves and each evening while he washes up before heading to bed.

Allyn, a tennis friend, has a wicked swing. If you’re not paying attention, a ball hit by Allyn could leave “WILSON” tattooed on your chest.

It matters not.

Everyone loves to practice with Allyn. She brings music. Allyn hangs her mini-Bluetooth speaker on the far side of the net, and we play tennis to the beat of her diverse playlists.

It surprises people that I don’t always have music playing in the background at home or even in my car. But I have a soundtrack that plays in my head. The songs range from my childhood fare like “Tora Lora Lora” to Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You” to, yes, Broadway hits like “You Can’t Stop the Beat.”

Like the cashier at the grocery store, “You Can’t Stop the Beat” is one of my favorites. It brings back the memory of the best of many entertaining dance recitals put on by Annabel Timms and her daughter Cindy.

The finale—“You Can’t Stop the Beat”—featured the senior students that year. All were given opportunities to shine.

My daughter Jordan and her longtime friend Kathryn Lawrence performed a toe-tapping duet in one segment. The two had grown up on the same block—Kathryn’s house on one end, ours on the other. It was pretty special for them to share the beat onstage.

The entire “You Can’t Stop the Beat” number, beautifully choreographed and executed, brought the audience to its feet. It had that same effect on my baby grand the first time she heard it, only Louisa danced with her eyes. That’s her way of telling us to add songs to her playlist.

At the grocery store, the young bagger held back as long as she could. Then, her head began to bob and a smile relaxed her face. Neither she nor the shopper behind me could resist the beat.

Everyday Life

VievesVine View All →

writer, blogger, columnist

1 Comment Leave a comment

  1. Music has always evoked joy and memories of people who have passed — putting a smile on my face.

    So glad you can bring this joy to your grandchildren…I can relate as Cam and Carrie welcomed Lucas about seven weeks ago.

    I encourage you to share memories with your grands that music brings to mind.

    We are fortunate to be able to help this generation get to know the people in our lives who loved us so fully.

    This article, I’m sure you’ve noticed by now, was a pleasure to read. I enjoy them all, but this one touched my heart.


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