It was an otherwise ordinary, late-summer Sunday afternoon, three years ago. I had just spent an hour or so at the Lincoln Park Zoo, one of my favorite free attractions here in the city of Chicago, along with the adjacent conservatory. It’s a fun experience to share with another person or small group, but I also enjoy going to such places by myself, which allows me to go at my own pace. I can’t think of that many other people who would have enjoyed spending as much time with the African penguins at the Pritzker Penguin Cove as I did that day.
Many of the zoo’s indoor facilities had been closed since last year out of safety concerns amid the pandemic, and there had even been online sign-up sheets for attendees to submit to help ensure proper regulation of the number of visitors at any given time. Those measures had all gone away months ago, with COVID-19 infection rates decreasing at the time. It has been a wonderful thing to be able to resume enjoyment of many of the attractions this city has to offer.
I was standing outside the Stockton Drive entrance to the zoo, and immediately noticed this large, imposing, black-and-chrome vehicle approaching as it headed south. It wasn’t just any car. It wasn’t just any Oldsmobile. It was what appeared to be the rolling, metaphorical equivalent of what we now know to be the Delta variant. It had mutated from a garden-variety family sedan into what we see here. (In all honesty, it looks bone-stock save for the rims.)
It’s a base-model, ’85 Royale four-door sedan, as tipped off by its grille, and one of just over 69,600 such examples produced that year. In the Delta lineup, its popularity was second only to the Royale Brougham four-door, which sold 72,100 units. In distant third was the Royale Brougham coupe, with about 31,900 sold. Total Delta sales that year were around 241,800 cars.
It’s not at all that I took issue with this car’s wheels or its overall look, all of which are fine with me. It’s just that there was no ignoring it. It was there, and very real, with its large, chrome wheels and heightened stance, whether or not it was to my particular taste or if I had chosen to believe that it actually existed. There was no denying that it was right in front of my very eyes as it moved slowly, deliberately forward on the asphalt. An Oldsmobile is the only “Delta” I hope to personally encounter as I make my own personal choices to live my life, but also to act responsibly and safely throughout the rest of this year.
Lincoln Park, Chicago, Illinois.
Sunday, September 16, 2018.