One of the first things I was made aware of since the current COVID-19 pandemic started was that even my grocery shopping habits had to change. All of a sudden, and in the name of optimal social distancing and reduced exposure, I was being advised to avoid public places as much as possible and to combine trips to obtain essential items into as few occurrences as possible.
For me, this included shopping for food once every two weeks instead of weekly. I don’t have a car, so close to four months later, this still entails loading up my backpack with reusable shopping bags, all of which I then stuff with two week’s worth of groceries before schlepping all of it home on my person like a sherpa. Heavy or bulky items get carefully slotted into my backpack like large Tetris blocks, and the rest goes into four large plastic bags.
My first such shopping trip this past March was filled with so much paranoia about necessary foodstuffs eventually disappearing from shelves that I ended up with things that sat in my freezer for months before I took the plunge and actually ate them. I could go five years before eating another box of frozen, discount store-branded buffalo chicken tenders with a breading-to-meat ratio of about two-to-one.
At the time I bought those, I was thinking that any available protein was good protein, since everything else was basically gone. In thinking about other needed nutrients in the produce department, I rediscovered an old favorite: apples. I hadn’t bought apples in years, and I wondered if I might eat all or just some of them and leave the rest to slowly rot in their plastic bag in my fridge before I threw the rest out. There was no such instance. I. Absolutely. Love. Apples.
The more I thought about it, the more it became clear that, in my mind, there had always seemed to be something so basic and elementary about apples that made them seem somehow less than desirable. An apple is what the lame people in your neighborhood would give you when you went trick-or-treating for Halloween. An apple is what your mom would tell you to snack on when the pantry cupboard was looking a little bare and you wanted some potato chips or cookies. An apple has gone so far as to become a symbol of elementary school toadying when presented to a teacher.
Taken on their own merits, though, I’ve discovered that apples (my favorites include Gala, McIntosh, and Fuji varieties) just have so much basic goodness that I now find them irresistible. They’re just sweet and tart enough, they’re perfect after a meal as they serve to clean your teeth a little bit, and they’re just the right portion for one serving. They’re the ideal, basic snack food archetype with universal appeal, easy portability, durability, and above all, they’re good for you.
I’ll posit that the Chevrolet Chevelle, whether a Super Sport or a basic, garden-variety, V8-powered two-door, is the apple of muscle cars, particularly the 1968 – ’72 generation of GM A-Body in which coupes first rode on a shorter wheelbase than the sedans and wagons (112″ vs. 116″). I don’t say this because of familiarity with the “baseball, hot dogs, apple pie, and Chevrolet” jingle from the 1970s. I was too young in 1976 to understand any of those references to traditional Americana. I liken the Chevelle to an apple because like an apple is a prototypical fruit, the Chevelle was probably the first car I associated with being a muscle car, especially growing up in Flint, Michigan, the birthplace of General Motors.
This isn’t to say that I don’t recognize that there are Ford, Plymouth and Pontiac folks whose first thought of a muscle car is of a Torino GT, Road Runner or GTO, just for a few examples. It’s just that in a factory town full of Chevrolets of all vintages, stripes, configurations, and degrees of desirability, the Chevelle became the de facto muscle car in my head, shorthand for the vehicle type, itself. And there were just so darned many Super Sports produced before being phased out after ’73. Both of our featured cars are 1970 models, which featured the reworked sheetmetal this year brought in the third year of this design. Chevelle Super Sport production for 1970 was 53,599, with another 3,733 being SS 454s with that big block under the hood.
The truth is that for 1970, the GT and Cobra variants of the redesigned Ford Torino had combined output that outsold the Chevelle Super Sport (60,758 GTs and 7,675 Cobras) by over 11,000 units (over 19%). Pontiac GTO sales were down 44% to just over 40,000 units. Plymouth’s Road Runner was still strongly in the game, with 41,500 units sold that same year.
1973 or ’74 Plymouth Road Runner. Ft. Myers, Florida. Friday, December 18, 2009.
Maybe the Plymouth Road Runner would be a banana. I’m saying this not as an affront to Chrysler Corporation’s perpetual status as second (or third) banana, but rather because while the banana is also very nutritious (some have called it a “superfood”), it’s probably not the first fruit that would come to mind of a contestant on the “Family Feud” game show during the Big Money round. Plus, the above example does look fetching in yellow, has a white interior, and probably also goes like stink. Or did at one point, anyway.
I’m at a loss to liken other muscle cars to forms of produce, so I’ll have to leave the metaphors to just the Chevelle and Road Runner. The Plymouth looked a bit past its sell-by date back at the end of 2009, but don’t the two, featured red Chevelles, photographed in 2011 and 2013, look juicy and delicious? Among many new adaptations and different personal choices from which I have benefitted during this challenging year, I consider my rediscovery of apples to be toward the top. My love of Chevelles has always been up there.
The slicktop was photographed downtown near Navy Pier on Sunday, July 10, 2011.
The other example was found in Uptown on Sunday, October 13, 2013.