Friday, August 25, 2017

Floundering in the Path of Totality!

My wife had been prepared, super-hyped, for the eclipse for months. She'd picked up tons and tons of eclipse glasses. Scheduled her work around the day. The whole nine yards.
I said, "So, I know it's a big deal and everything. But, really, can't we just step out on our deck and look at a partial sun?"

Boy, was I ever schooled.

"You just don't get it," she said with a sigh. "This is a once-in-a-lifetime event. It only happens every hundred years or so."

I did the math. Figured I probably wouldn't be around for another hundred years. Unless they freeze me next to Walt Disney.

"In Kansas City," my wife continued, "we're going to be in about 98% of the path of totality. To truly experience 100% totality, we'll have to travel North about, oh, 45 minutes or so."

"The path of totality" was a new one on me. Matter of fact, I'd never even heard the word "totality" until my wife dropped it on me. 

"Wow," I said, "the word totality is kinda..." The term sounded downright apocalyptic. Bigger than me, than you, than the universe. Words betrayed me. I couldn't describe it.

But my wife did. "Sounds so total," she said with a knowing, scientific nod.

So, yeah, if the solar eclipse was such a big to-do that a new term was created for it, a term so full of awesome that it's only used every 100 years, then color me excited!

Slowly, the days passed leading to the big event. Every layman was using the very special word: "I completed my meal to totality. Soon I'll have to make a path of totality to the bathroom." (A term only scientists should probably use, really, if you think about it.)

The Big Day came! Rain storms ushered it in! Torrential downpours of Arkian proportions! Skies so cloudy, the sun was nowhere in evidence!


Undeterred, yet holding out for the best, we headed North. I never voiced my optimism out loud, but I thought surely if this event only occurs every 100 years, we wouldn't be ripped off out of our chance to see it. Right? RIGHT?

My wife and I discussed our destination. Consulted various weather channels, charts, diagrams. Crystal balls. Just like scientists. And we postulated a very scientific conclusion: "We'll go to Weston, Missouri. We can drink wine. That way should it still be cloudy, it won't be a complete washout."

Spirits high, we traveled North! So did everyone else! Nothing could stop the path of totality! Epic!

In Weston, home of some of Missouri's finest wineries, people took to the streets. Frankly, being a macabre sort, I'd worried that the eclipse might have a strange effect on people. You know, turn them into rapid zombies or something.

To my great surprise, the impending event appeared to bring out the best in people. Jokes were made ("Sorry, folks, the eclipse has been called off."). Young hipsters offered strangers eclipse glasses. Doors were held open. Weather reports were passed on. Smiles shared. Politeness ruled. For the first time, since...well, since at least the last presidential election, I felt a sense of community. That we were all in it together.

Together in misery.
Hopes were dashed. Clouds remained and like big cumulus bullies, they were there to stay. Someone reported from her phone that in Kansas City, they had a clear view.

Dammit! Better 98% totality than none at all!

Quickly, we hopped in the car and raced back. Darkness fell. We pulled off in along the highway, chunked into a Ruby Tuesday's parking lot, for God's sake. So did a lot of people. And watched some totality. But not the whole shebang.

Crushing disappointment reigned. Made much worse by listening to the ecstatic nerds on NPR describe the path of totality they were experiencing. President Trump proved himself Bigger than Science when he looked directly into the eclipse with superhuman eyes, treating it with the same disdain he does that other great scientific hoax, global warming. (And scheduling his war talk the same day as the eclipse? Bad form, President Trump, bad! Honestly, isn't his ego big enough without having to compete with astronomical events? Is he vying for the Kurt Russell role in Guardians of the Galaxy 2 as "Ego, the Living Planet?")
And all we got for our month-long efforts was some wine and 48 leftover pairs of eclipse glasses. I'm selling them now. Cheap.

Or I'll just make some lifestyle changes and live to be in the next path of totality.

Hey, you guys visited Peculiar County yet? Oddly enough, it's in the path of totality a lot of the time. Click here! 

1 comment:

  1. I loved this. In Georgia we had partly cloudy skies but enough visibility to see some of the eclipse. Not the path to totality, though. We had about 98 percent. It didn't get dark as expected, but the bugs sure came out in force!!