Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The view from Zombie Mars

Do you ever think about what you would look like to aliens? For instance: here I am, hurdling down the highway in a metal box. Hurdling with other metal boxes, listening to recorded sound waves, drinking coffee and bloviating to someone via (hands-free, hopefully) phone? What about people from 2000 BC? Maybe a neaderthal? What would their hairy self think if they saw you smooshed in a train with hundreds of other people, hydraulic doors wooshing in and out, making a mad dash to get out and to the office. Despite being so close to them that you could smell their mouthwash, you never talk to or make eye contact with any of them because you have little plastic doo-dads stuck in your ears. You are insulated in your own world, walking through a personalized music video.

The silence of morning commuters is deafening.

There is one stretch of sidewalk, between the bus and the office, where I realize I'm walking with hundreds of other people, and none of us say a word. Not a word. We're all caught up in the day ahead, or the day that just past, worrying about bills, matters of the heart, what we'll eat for lunch. Clomp, clomp, clomp. The sound of the mental wheels turning just shouts at me, little cerebral hamsters running in place on a wheel in the cerebral cortex. We're zombies on a march to the cubefarm. Stomp, stomp, stomp.... braaaaains. Sometimes I want to break out into this dance just to see if anyone would take notice.

I had a music teacher in elementary school who was one of the best (for lack of a better label) reality disrupters I've ever met. He would drive around with a plastic unicorn mask on the passenger seat and when stopped in traffic or at a stop light, he'd put the mask on, look to his left and wave at other commuters. He liked watching their stunned reactions. He was also responsible for having us listen to the original War of the Worlds radio show which scared the ever living bejeezus out of me. (I couldn't sleep for weeks. My perplexed father would have to assure me that we were decidedly NOT going to be invaded by a Martian force any time soon, despite my 10-year old misgivings.)

So maybe the inclination to think about what aliens (better: zombie aliens!) think of us is really me projecting my childhood fear of extraterrestrials. Or something.

In any event, have a pleasant day - and if you don't, try breakdancing on your way home.

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