Singin’ in the SUV.

Tuesday, November 9th, 1999

Is it really an Ally McBeal kind of world out there? I usually catch the last five minutes of the way-too-popular Fox show, in search of Fox 5 News at 10 (or bored with my other alternatives.) There she was at the end of Monday’s episode, happy without Prozac, dancing with Al Green, as Al sang a duet version (with an off-camera female voice) of "To Sir With Love" that became "To You With Love." (What the?) Damn near Singing in the Rain, with the overhead camera angles and the generally romanticized light and the lush orchestration and, well, there’s Al Green, dancing with and singing to our late nineties everygal.`
This show speaks to the inner Gene Kelly in many women, and well, um, I can respect that. Every time I’m trapped in a clog of traffic at Cheshire Bridge and LaVista, it seems there’s yet another young, single in a large yuppie scummobile (no, larger than our yuppie scummobile) who, safely ensconced behind tinted windows, is singing and swaying quietly to a muffled beat. She is, in every sense, into herself, happy with herself, pleased that although she might seem trapped into a horrific management or protoprofessional job unimaginable to her a few short years ago, she still has this private place where she can tune out everything outside her skull and dance to the music that may or may not right now be coming from the car radio.
I guess I’m not really complaining. Better a fantasy pas-de-deux with the 70s musician of her choice than becoming an oblivious careen-while-cellphone-chatting driver. But it does seem that Ally has, as they say, "given permission" to a whole generation of fantasists of every gender to tune out of brain-numbing meetings and drift off into the land of choreographed escapism, where a seemingly real Barry White is hiding behind the meeting-room potted plant, ready to burst into song.
(Well, some of those plants are really quite large.)
I suppose one way to look at this is that we’re being treated to the inner dancer of David O. Kelley, who probably sat through one too many mind-numbing conferences during his lawyer days. Yep, I can see him fantasizing about transforming into an anorexic young lawyerette who dreams up musical numbers at the workplace. (And don’t get me started on his private detective fantasies that somehow begot the misguided Snoops.)
Tuning out through tunes and dance is probably more interesting to watch on television than the real way officeworkers zone out-by surfing the web. Check your Hotmail. How’s your retirement fund doing? Download some MP3. And then, after lunch, maybe you’ll have some time to do some real work.
Ah, the productivity of the American office worker. Zoned out during the day at the office, dancing with one’s self in traffic, and then, after a light dinner, fully launched into the evening escapism of Ally McBeal (and don’t miss those spinoff shows Ally, Al, and the latest, A.)
With Calista around, who needs Calgon to "take me away"?