A Strange Effect

Often I have spent three, four days in the desert alone, without even seeing another human being. I love the solitude, the brush with loneliness. I don’t talk to myself. I already know what I’ll say in response. The silence, and then the wind, it’s soothing, I relish it.

And I’ll leave to return to my little civilization, anxious for an interaction with my fellow man. A word, a smile, I’ll go into a store, a matter of convenience. I fix myself a cup of coffee. go to the counter and grin like an idiot. The clerk asks, “Will there be anything else for you today?” I shake my head from side to side. I do not care for the first word out of my mouth to be “No.”

I pay and the clerk says, “You have a nice day.”

I’m still grinning like an idiot.

I go to say, “Yes, thank you, and you too.”

My lips form the first word, but nothing comes out. My vocal chords are relaxed from not being used. Nothing comes out but a small, deep rumbling building up as I continue. I finish with the word, “… too” in a dark tone, about four octaves deeper than usual.

I still have that foolish grin on my face.

The clerk has a puzzled look on his.

I flash him a ‘thumbs up.’ Then with one hand I act like I’m ‘signing’ something to him.

He still has that puzzled look.

I still have that stupid grin.

I go out the door–embarrased.

I get in the truck and try to sing “Sherry” by Franki Valli, in a high voice as I’m driving down the road. It comes out bizarre and awkward. It’s like the reverse effect of helium. It cracks me up.

And I still have that grin on my face.