Some mysteries are tough to decipher. Like why does a ticket seller at a movie theater have to be behind three inches of bullet-proof glass? My bank teller, who has a few thousand dollars in her midst, can be grabbed with a simple lunge forward but the cashier sliding a worthless movie stub in my direction has to have more security than the pope?
Secondly, what happened to “Meatball,” my neighbor’s gregarious cat and frequent visitor to my yard whom we fear may have been devoured by coyotes. The trail, thus far, has gone cold.
Lastly, why does the moon sometimes consume, and then belch out in binger’s remorse, the entire sun?
It is this third enigma that has engulfed the city of Atlanta today as mobs of eager “Celestials” drive hellfire up to the North Georgia mountains for a brief glimpse of what is referred to as Totality, which is either the unifying oneness that connects all separate phenomena into one grand understanding, or a span of about five minutes in which it gets kinda dark, then not so much. I’m hoping that people achieve the former, yet I suspect it will end up being the latter. Instead of a total comprehension of the universal truth of things, I fear most spectators will be pissed off about all the traffic, a few people will fry their eyes out staring at the intense nimbus overhead, some suckers will pay $25 for an eclipse beer, which is a beer marked up 500% for an eclipse, and Pink Floyd will make another $20 million from their Dark Side of the Moon royalties.
Even in this age of regnant science it is nice to see people freak out over planetary rotation. Since the eclipse’s announcement I’ve talked to all manner of Neo-Mystics, who are digging into the phenomenon for the deeper meaning, or the Totality within the Totality. There is one couple who frequent the coffee shop up the block from me who plan on trying to conceive a child during Totality. It is obvious from their somewhat awkward public groping that they probably try to conceive a child when the sun rises, the sun sets, when the sun is out, when the moon is out, when the stars are out, when there are no stars, cloudy, thunderstorm, chance of showers, hot or cold. Anyhow, that is what they will be doing during Totality.
“Are you trying to birth Rosemary’s Baby?” I said.
“Who is Rosemary?” they said.
“Forget it. Good luck.”
There were a few doomsday types out in Little Five Points wearing sandwich boards encouraging me to repent for the Totality, because they had consulted some astrological charts and discovered that the Totality would last a thousand years instead of five minutes.
“Is it time for the end of the world again?” I said. “You guys get more mileage out of those sandwich boards than Trump gets from his Twitter account.”
And of course there were a few white supremacists that were boycotting the Totality because of the general blackness involved. It was all part of the grand conspiracy. The moon was in on it. They were sure of that. Lucky for them they still had their tiki torches and book burning and lack of melanin to justify their lazy form of superiority.
Yes, the birds, the bees, the lunatics and the street freaks get edgy during “syzygy,” (what a fun word! look at all those ‘y’s) but I wanted no part of it. Instead, I went to the movies. As I got into my car I noticed that “Meatball” the cat had returned, stretched out stoically in my front yard. We were worried for nothing.
There is a classic theater in the rundown and hip part of town that I drop in on from time to time. They show new releases and classic cult films. There is a filigreed series of gold lights descending systematically into the vector of an arrow pointed down toward the entrance. “This is Movie-Land!” it seems to suggest. Step into the magic and leave the world outside.
I got a ticket from the pale ghost of a woman posted in her Fort Knox-style glass booth and bought a bucket of popcorn from the man at the candy counter. He is roughly a million years old, pumping melted butter onto my popcorn with the measured concentration of Jackson Pollack creating one of his dripping masterpieces.
The usher led me to my seat. He is a militant fellow with a pencil thin mustache, a wilting bow tie, and a somewhat unsettling array of different sized flashlights attached to his utility belt. The smaller light sources, he explained to me, are for unobtrusive escorts. The larger, more blinding magnum beams are for raincoat masturbators, teenagers “necking,” and general belligerence. If everyone took their jobs this seriously the world would hum with the efficiency of a Rolls Royce engine.
I sat down in the otherwise empty theater to watch a showing of Orson Welles’s The Third Man. Two minutes into it, a fellow with a head like a prize watermelon sat down in front of me, completely obscuring 99% of the theater screen. The only part of the projection that I could see was a thin corona around the perimeter of his prodigious skull. How about that? I had witnessed the Totality after all. The man sat there for about a minute. Then, for reasons as mysterious as the universe itself, he got up slowly and chose another seat. Pleased with the eclipse, I sat back and watched Joseph Cotten search for the elusive Harry Lime.
More Alembics to come.