Termagant Tuesday: “Your Mind Is On Vacation,” Mose Allison


The Office of Personnel Management, in its infinite sagacity, closed the federal government yesterday because the District got a bit of weather.  So, I and my fellow govvie types got to spend the day entertaining ourselves, either with work at our kitchen tables (hello), or feverishly filling out March Madness brackets, or having snowball fights, or getting terrifically soused at a “bottomless brunch,” or all four.  This was just gravy as far as I was concerned.  The older I get, the more I enjoy spending the entire day at home.  Not because my place is amazing, which it is, or because I hate the outdoors, which I don’t, or because I neither own nor know how to operate a pair of pants, both of which are incorrect.  No – it’s just, sometimes…people.  I mean, seriously.

I was strolling to my favorite coffee shop this weekend when a woman turned from the upcoming corner onto my street and came to be walking in front of me.  She was solitary, dressed in as normal an outfit as you’re likely to find in D.C., and all of a sudden, she started to laugh.  Loudly.  Then, started talking as if she were interrupting someone.  Except, there was no one else around for a city block.  Was she insane?  Was she some sort of yuppie reincarnation of Teresa of Avila having her own private confab with God?  Was she a one-person flashmob?  An acting student?  I sped up considerably to pass her in case she had a shiv and a plan, and in so doing noticed that she had one of those little blinking in-ear widgets.  She had been on her phone.  It’s entirely possible she was insane and on her phone.  And somehow, I was supposed to accept this blithely and without comment, or – get behind me, Satan – conform and get my own little blinking in-ear widget so to numb the minds of others with one-way conversations about the pointless intangibles of my own life.  No wonder Putin grabbed Crimea so handily.  We were all on our cell phones talking about Swiffer Wet-Jets.

Things like this happen all the time now.  It is a defining characteristic of the modern urban human condition.  And it drives me absolutely mental.  I should like there to be little quizzes administered after I run my errands, otherwise all my knowledge of a visiting man’s proclivity for miniature biscotti, a man whose chatty grandmother has just spent the past eight unhappy minutes trailing me around Trader Joe’s (does she have magnets in her skull? Go. Away.), will have gone to waste.  Perhaps there could be gate-side therapists with Xanax-scented sound-proof booths for deplaning passengers so they can cleanse themselves of the knowledge of the woman in 13C – that she just landed, that her flight was on time, that it was a little bumpy, and that she plans to get home the usual way and will arrive at the appointed time because, I mean, at this time of day – well, you know – right, exactly.

I’m fully aware that I’m having a full-blown, unfettered “get off my lawn” moment, but I don’t care that, in this aspect, I’m turning into a crank.  So pardon me if I don’t jump at the opportunity to be out amongst the great muttering unwashed when I have a day to myself.  If you need me, I’ll be at home. And it’s extremely unlikely I’ll let you in.


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