If you live in the west, you’re living with smoke.  Which means during this nice summer, we’re stuck indoors or looking for a respirator.   I do have a box of KN95 masks that seem to work at keeping the smoke out of my lungs, but those ear straps drive me nuts.

I have floppy ears and it always feels like the mask ear loop is about to slip off my ear and send the mask flying around my head.  Then there’s the, “my ears hurt when I wear it too long” issue.  You’d think after 18 months of wearing a mask, I’d get used to it or at least figured a way to accommodate it.

I haven’t.  My strategy has been to hide in my house till it’s all over.  Sometimes that works.  Sadly, it’s not likely to work anymore.  Hate to say it but mask wearing is likely to become a new normal.  When it’s not a pandemic, it’s smoke.  I just waiting for my doctor say I should wear a mask durning pollen season.

This smoke/mask thing also got me to thinking about my father’s ears.  He had floppy ears too.  When his was in the hospital they liked to put him on oxygen with that plastic tube thing that goes over your ears and up your nose.  It would never stay on his head and eventually they end edup taping the hose to his face.  He was in the hospital so many times that I’d tell the nurses up front that they’d need to tape the O2 down, but they always ignored me.  Next morning there would also be tape on his temples which would often get torn off when father tried to put on his glasses.

The last time I was in the hospital they gave me an O2 line and I said, “I have floppy ears.”  They ignored me, mostly because they’d just given me a big wacking dose of morphine.  At some point a nurse did mention that my floppy ears was causing problems with the O2 line.  I wanted to say, “told you so,” but with all the drugs flowing I wasn’t sure if it was a real nurse that said it.

Smoke – reminds me a weird date I had in high school and a song I can’t listen to any more.  If you were alive in the ’70’s you heard Deep Purple’s, “Smoke on the Water.”  Did you know that song was based on a real event?  I’ll let you look that one up, but turns out the smoke on the water, was what was left after the recording studio they were using burned down.

I remember the song as one of five songs the band at the high school dance knew how to play.  The dance was at a my friend Tom’s school.  He’d talked me into asking a girl to the dance so we could have a double date.  Turns out, what he really wanted was me to borrow my father’s car and drive all of us there.

At least he paid for his share of dinner.  Still waiting for the two bucks he promised for gas money …

It was a typical high school dance, low lights, loud music, snacks, and the aroma of cannabis  in the parking lot.  I still don’t know why I really went – I can’t dance.  Never did figure out how to do that.  I have no natural sense of rhythm and my body moves a bit like a battleship in a bathtub.  Awkward would be the kindest description.

My date didn’t dance much better. We danced a little, but we spent most of our time looking for snacks and quiet places to talk – avoiding Tom and his date who seemed to think they were great dancers.  After about an hour of dodging the dance floor, we began to notice that the band seemed to be playing the same set of songs over and over.  The only one they could do with any skill was, “Smoke on the Water.”  They had a smoke machine that they used every time they played it, which was a lot.  I speculated that they used smoke so no one could see their faces.

After about an hour and a half, even Tom started to notice the band’s limited range.  Likely the band was a friend of a friend of the new member of the dance committee and the only band that would play the whole night for $50.

At some point the cannabis smokers returned to the dance and started shouting for, “Smoke on the Water.”  Apparently the song is better when you’re stoned.  It was shortly after this that we decided to leave and go to a friend of Tom who was having party after the dance.

I remember looking out at the dance floor seeing this spotlight shining though a smoky haze at a couple dancing.  It was surreal. Two silhouettes lit by a single beam of light and shrouded in smoke moving slowly to the music – drifting through time and smoke.  In a different setting it could have been artistic or the opening to a really bad science fiction movie.

So when the smoke from a million trees burning up settles on my home two things come to mind: Floppy ears and dancing.

About Andrew Reynolds

Born in California Did the school thing studying electronics, computers, release engineering and literary criticism. I worked in the high tech world doing software release engineering and am now retired. Then I got prostate cancer. Now I am a blogger and work in my wood shop doing scroll saw work and marquetry.
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22 Responses to Smoke

  1. wolfsrosebud says:

    Those floppy ears took us on a long adventure

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “Smoke on the Water” – go figure. I guess some parties are more fun if you remember less of them. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Let me be the first to break it to you, Andrew. No one ever goes to high school dances to, um, dance.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The wildfires are downright scary and it’s almost unbelievable how far that smoke travels. Friends of ours in the midwest have been affected (though not as bad as you) by it. And just when I was feeling all sad and sorry for all of that, you brought up that old song which I remember all too well and had me chuckling over your high school dance memory. “Oh, been there, done that,” says most of us of a certain age about awkward teenage dances. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Baydreamer says:

    We canceled our backpacking trip last month due to fires and smoke near Tahoe. This new normal fire season is enough to get anyone anxious. Fires just about everywhere you look on a map. The weather is going wild between heat, cold, hurricanes, etc. Mother Earth is showing her anger in many ways. So sad for the planet, for the humans, nature, and animals. Thanks for sharing your memories. I don’t miss high school dances. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Debra says:

    I’m at once horrified by the fires and what we’re breathing, and then you had me laughing at your memories related to “Smoke on the Water,” and floppy ears! It’s sometimes quite remarkable where our memories take us. I don’t have too much trouble with masks, and I’m getting used to them. My glasses do fog up, though, and that’s annoying. I actually think it may be years before I feel comfortable going anywhere without a mask. I guess we’ll see–foggily perhaps.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Dave says:

    Yesterday Denver rated the worst air quality in the WORLD, at least for a few hours. Colorado Springs wasn’t much better. I’m surprised we didn’t get a rain of ash the way we do with local fires. The Dixie out there in California is close to a half-million acres – boggles the mind. Still, I’d rather think about forest fires than about high school dances. At least yours had live music and snacks. Ours were the kind of awkward where everybody stood around the dance floor while one or two brave souls actually danced. How I managed to ask a girl to those dances is beyond me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • We did get some ash raining down last Friday. I’ve traveled the area the Dixie fire is in and I just can’t image all that burning – it’s a huge area.

      I never went to many high school dances – just too scary.


  8. Always enjoyed Smoke on the Water…a fire in the sky

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Pied Type says:

    Sounds like you need a “mask strap extender.” A little doodad that goes around the back of your head and takes the pressure off your ears. Search the dozens on Amazon. Early on, my DIL made one for me with her 3D printer.

    I recall “Smoke on the Water” but no memories connected with it. Smoke all around us, on the other hand, has become all too familiar. I’m staying inside, but my sinuses are killing me.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I am sad to read of the smoke you guys have. I have heard a lot of that from just about everyone west of us (which is just about everyone in N. America). We live in scary times. While I don’t want to get too deep, I can’t help but think that somehow we are paying the price for taking advantage of the things in this world that should be considered a privilege. Consequences for abuse and all of that crap. . .

    We went to a place called ‘Smuggler’s Cove’ today which is about a kilometer from where we live. it is on St.Mary’s Bay side south of Meteghan. The sun was warm and you could smell the ocean and I stood there for a while just grateful for the beautiful place I live, while watching the wave crashing on the rocks. The cliffs remind me of the movie, “Rebecca”.

    Maybe because I am from Chicago an lived a large part of my life there, I kind of appreciate my environment here every single day. It is like being on vacation.

    I hope things get better soon. (Floppy ears don’t help, either. I guess there isn’t much to do about them. 😉 )

    Take care.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes, a lot of what’s happening is due to human caused problems. The smoke is supposed to clear in a few days, but I’m sure that next summer it will be back. Sadly it’s the new normal.


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