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Monday, June 12, 2006

Nowhere Man

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Have you ever felt invisible? I seem to go through phases of joining the ranks of the Unseen (which is somewhat better than joining the ranks of the Unclean, I suppose), some more profoundly so than others.

The main syptoms include things such as sending emails that seem to go off into oblivion and never get a response. I wait and wait, but, despite the candle left burning in the window, I know that I shall never get the reply. This can also happen with phone calls.

Sometimes, given the way that people shove past me in stores or cut me off on the roadways, I start to believe that I am functioning in some kind of stealth mode that leaves me visible only to my nearest and dearest. And my loved ones have to acknowledge my existence, even if it is only as a sharp pain in their sides or further back.

A few weeks ago, I even became convinced that I had misplaced my soul somewhere. It started with the odd behavior of squirrels who darted in front of my car with a sudden maddening regularity. Perhaps a tidal wave of despair had swept through the local squirrel community and a rash of suicidal tendencies had corrupted the population, but I'm not sure. They all looked happy enough to me as I applied the driving skills of a stunt man in order to keep them firmly tethered to this mortal coil. No. It seems far more likely that they were unable to sense my being, and let me tell you, being beneath the contempt of a squirrel is a pretty low place in life.

The real kicker came one day while I was taking a walk. Already, in the course of the first half-mile or so, several squirrels had zipped across my path, perhaps hoping that I would crush them manually or perhaps taunting me with their lack of fear.

As I crossed into the driveway of a set of low-slung office buildings nearby, I saw a young guy walking what seemed to be a wolf. If it was a dog, it was the Frankenstein's Monster of dogs, made up of outsized parts for ease of reanimation. I'm pretty sure it was a wolf, though. (I've seen it several times since.)

Anyway, as I crossed the street to enter the driveway, the guy and his wolf approached from the opposite direction. And here's the thing: As soon as the wolf saw me, he started growling and baring his teeth, and the guy said, "I don't know why he's doing this. He never does stuff like this." And in my mind, I flashed on a scene from The Simpson's, the one in which Bart sells his soul to Milhouse for five dollars, and I thought of the scene in which Bart, while traversing Springfield in search of his soul, is confronted by a dog who acts toward him exactly as the wolf was acting toward me. And that's when it hit me: I had somehow misplaced my soul!

Now, I hadn't remembered misplacing my soul, but I wouldn't, would I? I hadn't washed it or lent it to a friend. As I continued on my stroll, I tried to figure out just what I had done with it.

And I still don't know. It seemed to be back the next day. I got some long-awaited emails. No animals excessively feared or flouted my existence. Maybe it just went on vacation, but I'd hate to think that my soul went to the beach or Branson, MO, and forgot to take me with it. It's all a mystery.

And that's the problem with souls. It's all a mystery.


Anonymous said...

I liked this post. Who is the gent in the picture Sometimes I feel like a visitor from another planet. Occasionally good things happen. A few days ago a rat died in one of our walls so now we enjoy the odor of decomposing and melon room deodorizers. If only the sun would come out and dry up all the rain. Close to 59 inches now.
-Burn Yee

C.Potts said...

Obviously, you need Soul Food. Get thee hence to a korean restaurant.

It may be worth noting that some scientists of my acquaintance have posited that squirrels become increasingly suicidal when population densities get too high. Perhaps it is your time to help them transition on to a higher, nuttier plane.

Len said...


The gentleman is none other than Claude Rains, who once played The Invisible Man. However, he is more dear to me as Capt. Renault in "Casablanca."

Something died in the walls of an apartment I lived in fifteen years ago. The distinct odor of death goes away eventually.

My grandmother was 59-inches tall. that means you guys have had a grandmother's worth of rain. Wow.

Len said...


Atlanta is an unusually leafy city, although the developers are putting a stop to that. The squashed squirrel rate has been quite astonishing since early spring, but there still seems to be no shortage. Lots of chipmunks, too, but with a much lower mortality rate.