Normal People

I recently had a couple of encounters at the interface between the normal world and the “doomer” world. It made me feel the separation between people who think about the apocalypse all the time, and people who don’t.

I asked a pharmacy assistant about a product that was missing from the shelves. While he was answering me – a nice young man, earnestly doing his job, trying to assist me – I looked at his face. “What will become of him?” I thought. “What is his role in this grand and terrible drama? When will the moment come for him that he realizes his life is gone, and there’s nothing he can do.”

I said “Thank you,” and went to look on the shelves.

At the hardware store, the guy behind the counter is an aging liberal; a “gray ponytail” like me. We chat periodically about homelessness and the latest depredations of the real-estate developers who are destroying our neighborhood.

I dropped in for supplies. My friend asked me, as he always does, “How are things going?” What was I to say? The real answer is: “I spend every waking moment contemplating the apocalypse and trying to make sense of it in words.” But that answer would only confuse and upset him. Why would I want to confuse and upset my old buddy?

So I said: “I think Trump is done for, this time!”

“Well, I hope so,” replied my friend.

And we talked about politics for a few minutes. About how the Democrats are spineless, and the Republicans are criminals. About why Pelosi delayed impeachment but is going ahead now. About whether we can even have a real election in this country anymore.

And it was nice. It was okay to talk about something normal and obvious and easy. It was nice to have that connection with a friendly soul for a moment. I was pretending, and letting myself off the hook, but that’s what I needed to do, just for a moment, just to have something be normal.

So we talked, and said goodbye. “Take it easy! See you later!” And that was fine. ⭐️

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