“Hey Doc, where’d you get that costume?” Andrew asked after he instinctively jumped to his feet upon my entering the kitchen. As a midshipman at the Naval Academy he is trained to be respectful, but I guess the ‘costume’ sort of took him by surprise. He and a friend from the academy had just arrived for a visit to our house for the weekend.
“It’s not a costume,” I explained, trying to act cool. “It’s a suit that I’ve had since the ’70s.”
“Oh my...” My wife stopped and stared at me as she came around the corner. “Where did you find that...outfit?” she said slowly.
“Pretty cool, huh? I’ve had it stored upstairs.” I struck a disco pose. The ‘outfit’ was a lime green leisure suit with eight inch lapels. The shirt was bright red with a tiny ruffle down the button line. I had seductively left the top three buttons undone, revealing a large gold Maltese cross on a gold chain buried in my graying chest hair.
“So, why do you have it on now?” Matt, Andrew’s friend asked, trying to maintain the facade of respect.
“Oh, I’m going to the hospital to teach CPR. It’s a visual aid.”
“Oh no you’re not,” my wife broke in. “You’re not leaving the house looking like that. The neighbors might see you. And then we’ll have to sell the house and move to another state. And you know that this is not a good time to try to sell the house.” She paused her mock hysteria for a breath. “And besides, what’s looking like Elvis got to do with teaching CPR?”
“Not Elvis, Sweetheart. I’m Tony Manero. I’ve got Saturday Night Fever, baby!” I grabbed her by the waist and pulled her over to me in a dance move.
“Oh, you’re sick all right. By the way,” she whispered in my ear, “how’d you ever get those pants to button?”
“I used the old rubber band trick,” I said as I spun her away.
“I still don’t get it, Sir,” said Andrew. “Who’s Tony Manero, and what’s he got to do with CPR?”
“Yeah,” my wife was just shaking her head now. “Please enlighten us.”
“Well,” I stopped to take on my most professorial voice. “The American Heart Association teaches bystanders to remember the rate of chest compressions for out-of-hospital CPR, 100 beats per minute, as the same pace as the song “Stayin’ Alive.”
“Who’s going to remember a 70’s hit?” my wife cracked. “These kids only know the tune to ‘Hey Jude’ because the Muppets sang ‘Letter B’ on Sesame Street.”
“Huh,” Matt was still puzzled.
“Oh, yeah,” Andrew said lighting up. “Saturday Night Fever was this movie back in the 70s starring John Travolta,” he explained to Matt. “He was sort of a teen idol. Stayin’ Alive was the theme song that they played as he strutted his stuff. My mom used to make me watch all those old movies when I was a kid.”
I grabbed my sunglasses and started walking across the kitchen, swinging my hips with attitude while singing the theme in my best falsetto.
“John Travolta?” Matt said incredulously. “The fat Scientology guy in Pulp Fiction? He was a teen idol?”
“That’s him,” my wife deadpanned sarcastically while looking at me. “Dead on.”
“He’s the guy that flies his own 737,” Matt said admiringly. He and Andrew were both planning to be aviators and were duly impressed.
“I don’t think he’s fat,” I said defensively. My wife stared at my bulging waistline as if expecting to hear a ‘twang’.
“I don’t mean to be a party pooper,” my wife said. “But isn’t the only person likely to remember the song
‘Stayin’ Alive’ the guy who is passed out on the floor? Shouldn’t they have picked a song more young people know? Isn’t there a Lady Gaga hit in the right rhythm?”
“Lady who?” I said. “Hey, Stayin Alive was a Number One hit for the Bee Gee’s. Everyone knows that.”
“The Bee Cheese?” Matt asked blankly.
“B.G.” I said slowly. “As in Brothers Gibb.” He still didn’t get it.
“I get it,” Andrew said, rescuing Matt. “It’s just a way of remembering what to do.” He grabbed a coke bottle for a mike and started to belt out the favorite naval aviators song, with a twist.
You lost that livin’ feeling,
Whoa, that livin’ feeling,
You’ve lost that livin’ feeling,
Now it’s gone...gone...gone...woooooah
Matt jumped up to join the Top Gun scene.
Baby, baby, I get down on my knees for you.
You’ve lost your pulse, and I don’t, don’t know what to doooo.
You had a pulse, I know, a pulse you can find everyday,
So don’t, don’t, don’t...don’t let it slip away.
In their white uniforms they were actually doing a passable job of imitating Tom Cruise and Anthony Edwards. And now my wife was starting to dance around and ignore me. I was getting up staged. “But see, if you used that rhythm, it would be too slow,” I interrupted instructively. “But you’re getting the idea. The song helps you keep the rhythm as you are doing chest compressions. You can use any song that is about 100 beats per minute. Actually, the song I like the best is “Another One Bites the Dust,” but I’m afraid of getting it stuck in my head. I’m scared that I’ll unconsciously sing that to myself in some code with a family member in the room. That wouldn’t be cool.” Everyone looked at me and shook their heads together.
“Actually, I was taught to use ‘The Marine Hymn,” said Andrew, beginning to sing:
From the Halls of Montezuma
To the shores of Tripoli
“When I took CPR in college,” my daughter chimed in, “they taught us to use the melody to “Be Kind to Your Web-Footed Friends.”
“For your information, young lady,” I huffed, “that’s the melody to “Stars and Stripes Forever.”
“Remember dad, I went to a ‘green’ college.”
“How’s anyone going to remember what rhythm to use if everyone has their own song,” I said, trying to step back into the limelight.
“What does it matter anyway?” my wife asked. “You always tell me that CPR seldom works, whatever rate you use. You should let people go out to the music of their choice.”
“Hey, when I go down,” I said, heading for the door. “Just sing
Happy Trails to You
Until we meet again.”
“You look like a giant gecko if you ask me,” my wife called out.