ridin’ the wave

Posted: August 23, 2011 in Observations and Commentary
Tags: , , , , ,

The earthquake hit a little before 2:00 p.m. I was prepping for a work meeting and messing with Excel. (Do you know the best way to mess with Excel? Whenever you speak to it, call it Lotus 1-2-3!  Buddum bump!) Suddenly, my desk glided back and forth like a marble released into a curved bowl. As if that wasn’t enough the ground did what can only be described as Mother Nature’s version of The Wave. Now surfing the waves at Laniakea is exciting. Surfing the net is entertaining. Surfing on what is supposed to be solid ground is disconcerting.

The quake was centered in Virginia, some 250 miles south. It seemed to last only a few seconds, but it’s funny how a few seconds of bizarreness can quickly fill your head with the strangest thoughts. When it started I was instantly consumed by the hope, actually the intense desire, that the whole swervyness wasn’t unique to me. I really wanted others to share the experience. Not because I imagined it would be a bonding thing we could all laugh about over lunch one day. I’m not that magnanimous. More because I didn’t fancy the possibility that the thoughts racing around my head might be true. “Is this finally the day my equilibrium begins to sputter like the engine in a ’77 Pinto? Am I just a few short mental lapses from people always greeting me with benign smiles, much like they do with a drooling infant? And what’s going to happen to this Cadbury bar?”

I popped out of my chair to see if any of my colleagues felt the same sensation, especially the younger ones who are (theoretically) more in control of their faculties. To my great and immediate relief a few heads emerged from the depths of the cubicles like groundhogs on a golf course. Now where I work is generally very quiet. People go about their business with a healthy respect for silent concentration. I’ve always appreciated this. Yet when I saw those heads common courtesy was kicked to the curb faster than Barney Frank at a Tea Party rally. Which totally justified my freakishly loud question/proclamation: “DID ANYONE ELSE FEEL THAT??”

Sometimes it’s thrilling to ride solo across the great plains of life. You know, the Lone Wolf thing. But this was not one of those times. When several people responded to my bullhorn volume question/proclamation with a resounding “Yes!” I was consumed with relief. It was similar to the relief experienced at age 7 when a schoolyard taunt directed at me claiming “I see London, I see France. I see John’s underpants!” proved to be mere folly. The latent bully who said that ultimately failed as a standup comedian. I remember seeing an ad years later in some underground paper promoting his act: “Jeff Smith – Seeing London and France!”* I didn’t bother going, but can only assume he never got the message that successful comedians constantly write fresh material and don’t rely on bits decades old. (Except for Henny Youngman who was probably considered the bees knees at some point between the World Wars. By the time I heard him he was a parody of a parody of a parody of himself and not at all within striking distance of funny. But what do I know? I’m sure his crib was spiffier than mine.)

Some might think I’m being overly dramatic. After all, it was only a moment of disorientation. Others had it much worse. Yet, had this been the real deal and not merely a tremor, it’s highly likely I’d be writing this post from a secure spot in the back of a dimly lit closet with a healthy supply of vodka, vodka and more vodka keeping me company. Since I’m not in the back of a closet with dim lighting how anyone can possibly accuse me of being overly dramatic is a mystery. I’ll reserve comment on the vodka.

Finally, as is often the case in troubled times, the wise words of the Brothers Gibb puts everything in proper perspective.

Whether you’re a brother or whether you’re a mother,
You’re stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive.
Feel the city breakin’ and everybody shakin’, people,
Stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive.
Ah, ha, ha, ha, stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive.
Ah, ha, ha, ha, stayin’ aliveeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.

And some of you claim I’m being overly dramatic. Don’t you feel silly now?

*name changed to protect the unfunny

men of wisdom

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