A couple posts back, Devra offered up some slightly cryptic information about Kool and the Gang and a flat tire. A lot of you were wondering what the hell she was talking about. In a guest post, Devra explains it all.
Maybe next time we can get her to tell the story about the time she was in her pajamas in the airport.
Without further ado, I give you Devra:
1985. Summer. My mother at the wheel of our stylin’ Subaru sedan and we’re tooling up I-95 heading home to Connecticut after attending a wedding in New Jersey. All of a sudden, there is a big “pop” signaling the tire has blown out. Fortunately on the horizon is an “On Again, Off Again” McDonald’s. My mother slowly inches the car until we are in the parking lot. Without a cell phone in our collective imagination she tells me, “Hold tight, I’ll go in and call Triple A”.
(left: Devra pictured in 1985)
Considering I am a 16 year old with Saturday night plans, I’m not about to wait no stinkin hour and a half for AAA to show up. Prior to being allowed to drive my parents’ cars, my father handed me a lug wrench and stood over me while I changed all four tires, one by one. So, I can change a tire about as fast as a NASCAR pit crew. I tell my mom that I will go into McDonald’s, get out of the fancy wedding wear and into jeans so I can make it back to my social life,”Which you know nothing about anyway so just be quiet mom. Jeez!”
As I head toward the building, everyone starts pouring out of McDonalds because the fire alarms are going off and the place is being evacuated. I stand for a moment in utter disbelief as I come to the horrible realization, “Oh shit, I will have to change a tire wearing a poofy dress and Candies.”
My mother stands next to me as I slide the jack in under the chassis. As I am trying to crank the jack, a man comes over to us and extends his hand to me saying “Let me.” I look up and see a guy smiling down at me and then he says to my mom “This won’t take much time. Let me help.” As he changes the tire, my mother goes to work on this unsuspecting man. ( This will ultimately be the one time where I found my mother’s normally annoying habit of asking tons of questions useful.)
Mom: Is that your stretch limo?
Mom: Are you famous?
Him: I’m in a Black singing group. We are on our way to a show we’re doing in Connecticut.
White Rolls Royce pulls up. Man gets out and comes over to talk to the guy changing our tire. The discuss how much longer the tire might take, the guy smiles at my mom and me and says “No problem. We’ll just wait on you.” and he goes back to the car.
Mom: Is that Rolls Royce with you?
Him: Yes, they are the main group. We are their opening act.
Mom: Who are you guys?
Him: (chuckling) I don’t think you’d know us.
Mom: Really? C’mon Try me. I’m a professor at a university, I teach sociology. I might have heard of you or your friends from my students or maybe my daughter has heard of you.
Him: Well, okay. I’m from Whodini and that guy who just left is from Kool and the Gang.
Mom: Of course! I know Kool and the Gang. Kool and the Gang! Devra, don’t they sing that song about Susanna?
Me: That would be “Joanna”.
At this point, the tire is now changed and everyone is ready to go their separate ways. Thank you’s are made and then this kind stranger(yet a famous stranger!) gives us both a big smile and leaves us with a final thought, “I just know that if my mom and my sister were by the side of the road, I’d want someone to help them. So, I’m happy I could help you.”
His words have stuck with me all these years because he’s right. People should help other people.