The Music of Fred

Chapter 4: Pink Floyd’s “Us and Them,” and a short excerpt from Fred where it’s mentioned:

As the first semester of my junior year wore on, I had a gnawing feeling that I didn’t like calculus. But I didn’t trust my senses. They’d lied to me so often, after all, about my health and my family’s safety and what was real and what was fantasy. Whether I liked it or not, however, I had to keep studying for this test. I bent over my notebook paper and started copying the next problem from the book.

I started as the phone rang, breaking my concentration. I glanced at the clock. It was nine.

“Shit,” I muttered. I’d said I would call my boyfriend, Doug.

“Hey, Shala,” Doug said when I answered the phone in the kitchen. I could hear the breathy saxophone from the beginning of Pink Floyd’s “Us and Them” lazily playing in the background.

“Hey.” I was into Doug, but not right then.

Chapter 5:

The Police’s “Don’t Stand So Close to Me,” and a short excerpt from Fred where it’s mentioned:

I stepped out of my first-floor apartment into the evening air as a car whizzed by, the soulful staccato of The Police’s “Don’t Stand So Close to Me” coming from a nearby frat house. I began my daily four-mile run around campus, heading south on First Street along the university’s western edge. Dusk spray-painted dusty graphite over the melon-colored remains of the day, and I exhaled deeply into the evening air.

Don McLean’s “American Pie,” and a short excerpt from Fred where it’s mentioned:

My best friend Evie and I were especially fond of O’Malley’s, a dark, crowded, sloppy-drunk college bar, thick with the mingled scents of beer, sweat, and Drakkar Noir, where we’d imbibe an unknown alcoholic concoction called the Blue Fucker from cheap souvenir plastic mugs on Saturday nights. We always stayed until midnight, when we could sway arm in arm with other students, intoxicated with booze and the freedom of college life, slurring as we sang along to Don McLean’s classic “American Pie” as it blared from the bar’s speakers.

Chapter 6: John Parr’s “St. Elmo’s Fire,” and a short excerpt from Fred where it’s mentioned:

I felt a communion with the other passengers, all of us lucky enough to have been chosen to work among the rich, the powerful, the credentialed. I felt, as I rode the L, as if my life had a soundtrack, something like the song “St. Elmo’s Fire,” with its crescendo of guitars and horns and synthesizers so typical of the eighties anthems that had pervaded my adolescence.

Chapter 15: Pharrell Williams’ “Happy,” and a short excerpt from Fred where it’s mentioned:

I pondered for a week what car would create the most fate-tempting exposure. What was the happiest car ever made? I knew in my gut what my answer would be, and without considering any other options or taking more time to think (things my OCD told me I should do), I bought what was to me the happiest, friendliest car on Earth: a fire-engine-red 2014 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible. I drove it home from the dealership with the top down, singing at the top of my lungs to Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” blasting from the speakers.

Chapter 18: Emmy Rossum’s “Slow Me Down,” and a short excerpt from Fred where it’s mentioned:

When Corey, with whom I’d remained the best of friends, sent me a link to Emmy Rossum’s song “Slow Me Down,” I watched the video on my iPad, seeing myself all too clearly in her poignant lyrics about running around, racing through life, rushing to get to the next thing—none of which I wanted to do anymore. But my ambition, my Quest, seemed to have a drive all its own. So there was no more important question than the one Rick Hanson was about to answer: How do you balance contentment and ambition?


Is Fred in the Refrigerator?: Taming OCD and Reclaiming My Life is available for purchase on Photographs in the top banner by Sabrina Fattal Photography.

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