Monday, March 17, 2008

"I can't think, I can't think, I can't think..."

I'm in the middle of late winter doldrums now. Spring break at ISU means no teaching or commuting for a week and conflicting late season orchestra schedules mean weeks at a time with nary a rehearsal in sight. So there's time to blog, but nothing much happening to blog about.

One sure way to lose readers for good is by greeting their hopeful visits in search of new content with the ever-present image of a creepy-looking, hunch-backed clown in stage makeup. For a month.

Sorry about that. But what to write now? I could write about new experiences which have happened to me since my last post. Such as donating blood and having both antecubital veins poked to perdition in the process.

Or being forced by my youngest sister to create a profile on a popular singles website under extreme duress, and thus having to endure the double digital indignity of active and passive rejection by scores of women, even though most are touted as over 80% compatible with me.

Or even of walking the rails. I'm not talking about becoming a hobo or just ambling along the tracks but of literally balancing on the rail. My record is 140 steps, with hands in pockets, into a stiff wind and I encourage you all to try and break it.

But I think I'll save those for a rainy day. Instead, I give you...

Nicky and Dick
(The End of June)

-On a bluff in Northern California, late May, 1961-

[laying on the hood of a car, smoking, looking at the stars]

Nicky: Hey Dick.

Dick: What?

N: What would an eclipse look like from the moon?

D: What?

N: An eclipse. What would it look like from the moon?

D: That doesn't make any sense, Nick.

N: What? How come?

D: There's no air on the moon, Nick. Why would you bother looking at an eclipse if you couldn't even breath?

N: I don't know? Just say you held your breath during it. What would it look like, Dick?

D: It's more than just air, Nicky. [flicks ashes] There ain't no atmosphere at all. You'd explode if you were on the moon.

N: Aw c'mon, Dick. Say you had a space suit. Whatever. What would an eclipse look like from there?

D: You'd never notice it, Nick.

N: What? Why not?

D: You're on the moon in a space suit, right?

N: Yeah.

D: Well someone must have sent you there and it probably took a lot of money, right?

N: Yeah. I suppose.

D: I mean you can't just buy a space suit at Sears.

N: No. I suppose not.

D: So for that kind of money whoever sent you to the moon probably wants certain things to get done. You've got to stay focused on your job, Nick. You can't be stargazing.

N: Aw, c'mon Dick. I just mean imagine you're on the moon. What would an eclipse look like from there?

D: Nick. What's the point? You ever goin' to the moon?

N: Course not.

D: So you'll never know for sure then?

N: I guess not.

D: Then why bother asking? That's science, Nicky. Why bother asking something you know you'll never know for sure.

N: That's science?

D: Yup. [flicks ashes] Partly.

N: Hm.

D: So, you wanna go to Fubar's tonight?

N: [not listening] Huh? Sure, okay.

D: [teasing] Tammy's gonna be there.

N: Huh? Sure okay.

D: You okay Nicky? What's the matter?

N: Huh? Oh nothin.

D: C'mon. [flicks cigarette away] Let's go to Fubar's.

N: Hey Dick?

D: Yeah Nick?

N: That's really science?

D: Yup. Sure as shit, Nicky.

-At Fubar's: smokey, loud, crowded-

[everyone talking over each other]

Tammy: Where you guys been all night?

Janice: We were here an hour ago. Where were you guys?

Dick: You jealous?

J: Oh, what? Of farm animals?

T: Yeah, I can't compete with a sheep.

J: Baaaah!

T: Baaaaaah!

Nick: We were smokin' at the bluff.

T: Aw! Without us?

J: C'mon. Let's go to the bluff!

T: Yeah!

D: We were just there, Jay. Let us get warmed up at least. [goes to bar]

N: It's a nice night for it. We were lookin' at the stars.

T: That sounds nice. Let's go back later.

N: If Dick wants. It's his car.

J: He'll want. [smiling] Just let's get him warmed up first. [follows D. to bar]

T: [dragging N. to empty booth] What's your sign, Nicky?

N: I don't know.

T: Well, you were born in October, right?

N: October 10th.

T: October 10th... so you're a Libra.

N: Libra?

T: Do you know where Libra is?

N: It's scales, right?

T: Not what. Where. The constellation.

N: It's a 'W' looking thing. Someone showed me once. In the northeast.

T: That sounds more like Cassiopeia. Who showed you?

N: Cassio-what? You're making stuff up now?

T: No. I'm serious. Cassiopeia. Cassiopeia was Andromeda's mother. A queen. Her daughter was saved from a sea monster by Perseus. [suddenly slightly embarrassed] Or something like that.

N: How do you know all that?

T: My dad used to read Greek myths to us when we were little. [changing subject back] But Libra. That's nowhere near Cassiopeia. Libra's in the south.

N: I don't know if I've ever seen it then.

T: We'll look for it at the bluff.

N: What are you, Tam?

D: [back with J. and beers, loudly] What'r you two turds talkin about?!

J: [just as loud] Richard! Do you plan on kissin' me with that mouth! Now leave them alone, will ya.

N: We were just talkin' about constellations. What'r you Dick?

D: Again with that shit? C'mon Nick. Summer's just started and last I checked you ain't goin to college. [slides beer over] Drink.

T: No really. What's your sign Dick?

J: [joking] I'll bet he's a Cancer.

D: [to J.] And you're a Virgo.

J: [slaps his shoulder, offended] Whada you know?

T: You were born in August, right Dick? You're probably a Leo, then.

D: Sure. So what?

T: We'll find our constellations tonight when we go back to the bluff.

D: [sarcastic] That's sounds like a helluva plan. [sliding out of booth] Nick. Darts?

N: [following] Hey Dick. What's Virgo mean?

-Back at bluff-

[N. & T. laying on hood, D. & J. in back seat.]

T: [pointing] So that's Libra, low over the city lights. And, right there, that's mine, that line with the curl at the end.

N: What is it? A snake?

T: No. A scorpion. Scorpio chases Libra across the sky but he can never catch her.

N: I don't suppose she would want him too, either.


N: Do you think the Sun is part of any constellation, Tam?

T: The Sun moves during the year so it can't...

N: No, I mean for other planets. Do people around other stars see the Sun as part of any constellation, do you think?

T: I suppose they probably do.

N: What constellation do you think the Sun is part of?

T: Well... it would be different for each star. The Sun's position would change.

N: That one, then. [pointing] That bright one in Scorpio.

T: Well, let's see. What other ones would be nearby? [looks over her shoulder behind her] Could be just about anything I suppose.

N: [slowly turns and stares at T. while she's facing away from him] But you could never go there. [T. turns back, N. quickly looks back at sky] I mean, to see if the constellation looked like you thought it would.

T: No way. Too far. But you wouldn't need to do that. It's just a matter of imagination. Putting yourself in another place in your mind. You know? That's something people are very good at doing. One of the things that makes us different than all other animals. It's what let's us understand and empathize with others. And it's why we can lie to each other.

[long silence]

N: When do you leave for school, Tam?

T: [looks at feet] End of June.

N: [stares beyond stars] End of June.

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