This morning, I picked up my daily Houston Chronicle on the ground floor of my downtown apartment building. I am the only person in the building who subscribes to a hard copy newspaper. Perhaps, I am the only person in the building who even reads the Houston Chronicle or the NYT in any form. With morning paper in hand, I busied myself with iPhone alerts as I entered the tenant elevator. Buzz Feed and Huffington Post both reported the death of Aretha Franklin, 76, Queen of Soul.
I am immersed in this news and my mind is replaying her songs. Absorbed, I inadvertently pass my floor, riding upwards to the top of the building where a young man steps into the elevator. He is dressed for business, sporting chic rimless eye wear and hair with the sheen of product.
“Good morning.” I say, “I see I've gone right past my floor.”
I hold up my iPhone as evidence of inattention and say, “Aretha Franklin died this morning.”
He looks at me, as from a great distance.
“She was terrific,” I say, still hearing 'Respect' in my head.
He is silent, and then asks, “Did she die of old age?”
I am flummoxed. I am Aretha Franklin’s age.
I say, “I think not. She wasn’t 90.”
The elevator door opens. I nod to the young man, tell him to have good day, depart with both hard copy newspaper and iPhone in hand.