Thursday, August 17, 2017

to the eclipse


As I drove down Interstate 81 South, I spotted a hitchhiker in his twenties, either scraggly or merely “roughing it,” with a cardboard sign. His branding tool was of the sort that panhandlers on urban corners employ, with captions such as: “Veteran” or “God bless” or “Anything helps” or “Hungry.” This particular hitchhiker on this particular day sported a sign that read, “TO THE ECLIPSE. 

Good one!
This was 10 days before the predicted solar eclipse of August 21, 2017. Predicted? Yes, it had not occurred yet. Although NASA scientists can forecast precisely when and where the solar eclipse will be, it still has to happen on its own. Cue Little Orphan Annie to sing about the sun coming up tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow… only a day away, etc. 
I attribute my dose of skepticism to the epic letdown of Comet Kohoutek in 1973. Experts hyped it in advance as a spectacular, mind- and soul-blowing cosmic event. It was a dud.
Presumably, the pedestrian pitching for a ride was aiming to get to somewhere like Nashville, near or on the eclipse’s path of totality. But that’s an assumption. Maybe he merely needed a ride down the road to Marathon, New York. Maybe he wanted to hit up a Good Samaritan driver for a few bucks or a pack of cigarettes. I’ll never know — unless by some strange Reverse Kohoutek Effect he reads this and tells me.
The eclipse’s expected shadow swath through the United States was “kohoutekked” as a destination for a rare and spectacular event. Madras, Oregon. Casper, Wyoming. St. Joseph, Missouri. Nashville, Tennessee. Columbia, South Carolina. Let me pause here for a cranky disclaimer. For years, I’ve heard media reports claim that a notable eclipse, either solar or lunar, would be the last one so intense and dramatic in a designated area for the rest of our lives! And then inevitably the experts conjure up ANOTHER “last-chance-to-see-the-intense-and-dramatic” eclipse. I’ve grown skeptical. Or old. 
Can you actually go to an eclipse? Wouldn’t you have to go to the sun, the moon, and the Earth? Aren’t you just going to see the results of the solar eclipse? At its climax it is two or three minutes of darkness in daytime. Spare me. I’ve had more than two or three minutes of darkness in daytime plenty of times. 
Did the hitchhiker’s TO THE ECLIPSE request mean, “Take me to the path of totality”? Our stranger may have wanted to go where the hottest (figuratively; these days “literally” means “figuratively”) solar-eclipse action was predicted to be.
Path of totality? Don’t even. I’ve been on a path of totality since forever. I don’t know anything short of totality. The path of totality is riddled with casualties. And they want to sell tickets to it?!? Gawd. On my metaphysical Google Maps, the Path of Totality is a highway with two lanes, marked All and None. It has few exits and no speed limits.
Speaking of highways, in retrospect I should have swerved to the shoulder, picked up the hitchhiker, and driven him as far as he wanted to go. I could have asked him about his own path of totality: Did he have one? Was he seeking one? Was he fleeing one? 
Oh, the places we’d go, the stories we’d trade!

6 comments:

Unca chuck said...

Hey I'm a sucker for this stuff. I was pissed at Kohoutek, and Hale-Bopp as well. But this was pretty cool.

DJLoo said...

If he was wearing an SF cap, he would have had a round-trip chauffeur...

Pawlie Kokonuts said...

Great comments, Flappers.

bestfriend said...

thanks pawlie!
avanza

its said...

amazing,
KTA

its said...

amazing,
pinjaman cepat

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