“Hello darkness, my old friend, I’ve come to talk with you again. Because a vision softly creeping, left its seeds while I was sleeping. Sounds of Silence” – Simon & Garfunkel covered by Disturbed https://youtu.be/u9Dg-g7t2l4
Welcome to Drivel Over Coffee. You are an esteemed member of the only group who proudly dribble our French Roast down our shirt while Driveling about our fate in life. Sometimes our view of life becomes slightly skewed while looking through dog licked glasses.
Garfunkel once summed up the song’s meaning as “the inability of people to communicate with each other, not particularly internationally but especially emotionally, so what you see around you are people unable to love each other.” Sounds of Silence went #1 on Billboard in January 1966.
At 70, memories become fewer it seems. A bane of the aged I guess. One memory that seems etched in my brain is a time in Vietnam when I am posted out in the middle of nowhere during an attack on our base. Equipped with an M16, radio, helmet, and flak vest, I am cowering in the deep grass making myself as small as possible. Flares are floating in the air illuminating the night. There is not a sound until broken by a rocket or mortar. Then quiet again. That is all of the memory. I don’t remember what happened that night other than I survived. It haunts me to this day, the silence.
If a monk, living in a monastery, takes a vow of silence, then talks in his sleep, has he broken his vow of silence? If so, who is going to tell on him?
Fast forward to 2016. I am standing in the serpentine security line at the Las Vegas airport at 6:00 am on a Sunday. Back and forth about 10 times before we get to the security dude. I noticed that there are very few discussions going on, it is mostly quiet aside from the shuffle of carry-ons being pushed. We move one or two bodies at a time, back and forth. I am in dire need of a coffee as caffeine withdrawal has begun to set in.
Shuffling along it occurs to to me that the phrase “Dead End” denoting a street that does not continue on doesn’t make a lot of sense. Hey, why that popped into my head standing in the security line in Las Vegas I haven’t a clue but there it is and I have to deal with it. Maybe a self-protection mechanism to stave of a caffeine coma. Shuffle, ponder, shuffle, ponder. Between shuffle’s and ponder’s, I googled dead end on my phone. My friend Merriam of Merriam-Webster fame says it means 1: an end (as of a street) without an exit. 2: a position, situation, or course of action that leads to nothing further. It seems to me that “no outlet” would be more appropriate. There seems to be speculation that the term may have originated during the time of ancient Rome in which streets were planned for defense purposes. If an enemy entered a ‘dead-end’ street, they would be trapped with no escape, and would be easy targets for defending troops.
Shuffle, ponder. Before I know it, I am at the first Gestapo post. Now as near as I can figure, this obviously nasty person wants to see something of mine. I have my boarding pass and driver’s license in my hand because my girls told me to have those out. Reacting to his glare, I thrust my hand out with these items hoping these are what he wants. I’m right. He scans my pass with his magic wand. He looks at me, then my license and back to me. Not wanting to seem like a “newbie”, I avoided eye contact but I swear I saw the corners of his mouth turn upward, just slightly, as if swallowing a laugh. He waved me on but I heard a rather choked exhale as I past. I vowed right there, that I would never fly again. I will never again produce my license for anyone for any reason.
I proceeded to the next station where the line wasn’t so backed up. I’m watching people ahead of me grabbing these baskets. They empty all the orifices in their clothing putting the contents in one bucket. Another bucket is for your carry-on. A third one is for a laptop if you have one. I notice that everyone seems to be late for their plane because this area is like a rugby scrum. Scrambling to see who can be the most obnoxious by budging and shoving. Hey, dudes what’s the hurry?
I Looked at the goons manning this station. What’s the deal with the latex gloves? No one told me about this. Darned if I am going to bend over and cough. They do not want to talk so questions are not encouraged. Standing there, I see a line off to the right. A sign says “Pre-Pass TSA”. My boarding pass has this phrase printed on it also. I put 2 and 2 together and realize, albeit to late, that I could have avoided all this mess. Yikes, my turn, quickly I grab 2 baskets, slam my backpack in one and deposit all the contents from my pockets including some lint from one. I shove them through this gizmo that I assume is some type of x-ray. I get why you are required to put a laptop in a separate tub but I don’t understand why your IPad is exempt. I get a firm grip on my belt in order to resist the “bend over/cough” test this guy REALLY, REALLY wants to put me through. I hear him whisper upon seeing my Vietnam Veteran cap, “thank you for your service”. Through the arch I go praying for silence once more. Bingo, quiet as can be. I thought about thanking him. I am sure that would earn a strip and body cavity search and I didn’t change my underwear that morning. The words “don’t rock the boat” came to mind just in time. I kept my mouth shut and shuffled along. Thankfully, I have survived the TSA Gestapo gauntlet. Did I mention that I will not be flying ever again?
I am sitting at my favorite table at Jimmy’s Grill & Bait Shop writing my Drivel Over Coffee today. It is so quite in here for a change. I am the only one there. Mustard is out back getting something out of the Solar Powered self-serve freezer. Nary a clue where Jimmy is. He is mostly invisible since he run in with the government. I am sipping a cup of his dark French Roast swill. I don’t think it is really dark French Roast. I think it is Folgers that was brewed a few days ago. Constantly reheated thereby reducing its volume; enhancing it’s darkness, it’s viscosity and turbid taste. The sound of silence is so refreshing. I am alone in my thoughts again. The silence is broken only by the ocassional drip from the faucet behind the counter, the buzz of a fly trapped in the live fish case and a series of expletives uttered by Mustard when he found the solar panel keeping the fish frozen had become unplugged again. Oh, the wonderful sound of silence.
As time went by Jimmy’s began to fill up with the lunch crowd. A construction worker walks into a bar. He’s a rather large, menacing guy. He orders a Blatz beer, chugs it back, and bellows, “All you guys on this side of the bar are a bunch of idiots!” A sudden silence descends. After a moment, he asks “Anyone got a problem with that?” The silence lengthens. He then chugs back another Blatz beer and growls, “And all you guys on the other side of the bar are all scum!” Once again, the bar is silent. He looks around belligerently and roars, “Anyone got a problem with that?” A lone man gets up from his stool unsteadily and starts to walk towards the man. “You got a problem, buddy?” “Oh no; I’m just on the wrong side of the bar.”
I was in the waiting room today at the hospital. My current wife was in for a small procedure. There several of us doing the same thing. The quiet was so thick you could cut it with a knife. There was a sweet older lady sitting next to me. She was trying so hard to not be worried about her husband. I could tell she needed someone to talk to. To break the ice, I blurted out the first thing that came to mind. “I was in a porno once”. My opening didn’t have quite the ice breaker effect I had hoped for. Unbeknown to me, her son, sitting on the other side, got up and smacked me a good one. “What’s that?” Oh, my current wife is fine and dandy. She is nursing my black eye now that we are home.
While in the waiting room and before my interactions with the lady next to me, a doctor came in, bending over a guy. I could barely hear the conversation but he said, “Your wife… is fine. Congratulations sir.” The man exclaimed, “That’s Terrific!! Thank you doctor. I owe you my life”. The doctor tries to hold in his laughter, finally bursts into laughter “I’m kidding, I’m kidding. She’s dead”. Silence!
“It’s not that I can and others can’t, it’s I did and others didn’t.” Remember your Vietnam Veterans – All gave some, some gave all!! If I can make at least one-person smile, or laugh till they leak, then my day was not wasted.
Until we meet again -TA! If you would prefer to receive the blog by email, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org