At The Speed Of Your Last Good Summer
With appropriate warning and coordination of cell phones, or perhaps a series of exquisitely timed letters, your friend can then stand on highway overpass or train platform and throw you a thumbs up as you blow through their town. Better, they can recruit several strangers to stand beside them and each wave to you in different, funny ways, like that wave that beauty queens do plus some others that are different than that. Best, they can hold up a hastily made cardboard sign that says “YOU’RE RIGHT, THE MAN IN SEAT 12A DOES LOOK A LOT LIKE HUGGY BEAR.” They will laugh, you will laugh, the man in Seat 12A will shuffle his papers uncomfortably. Now, enjoy more fatty bagged snacks.
These little things are important, these little things are the tactile pop and hiss of the electronic age, where you rely so heavily on digital voices, keystroked affection and those goddamn emoticons that make me feel like a slow kind of monkey. Internet dating: no one looks like their pictures and there’s no accounting for personal odor in answers to questions like “What kind of music puts you in the MOOD?” Ebay: What makes a man in Topeka think it’s ok to pack an antique blender in an oversized box by surrounding it with two neatly folded newspapers and a dirty t-shirt? Online banking: I want my goddamn gratis watermelon sucker handed to me by a peppy, twenty three year old blond woman who drove her sensible green Honda here from the suburbs. Now, we live for the thrill of that flashing cursor and die to touch things and people again like they actually mean something to us.
We’re so transient.
We meet, we drink, we laugh, we move on and sometimes, we never see each other again. Sometimes we go to school, work on a seasonal fishing boat, “try out” life as a roadie and sometimes we step out into a crosswalk and in front of a truck or explosive knifefight and suddenly cease to exist. We see hundreds of people every day that matter so little to us (so many glances), we crave the one or two that do (so few stares). It’s all a blur, all this living, whizzing by you at the speed of your last good summer in that cabin by the lake with the floating dock and gorgeous young townie stocking E.L. Fudge cookies at the Trading Post. Do you remember that summer’s clandestine, frantic, moonlit love affair? Do you remember it vividly? Now, instead of holding your head pitifully in your hands, look up and slightly to the left, just in time to see your friend holding their cardboard sign, surrounded by the undulating, sun-kissed arms of five enthusiastic day laborers whose names you’ll never care to know.
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