I am not a fan of David Lynch films. Generally, I find his works to be annoyingly self-conscious and guilty of trying too hard to be weird. Kinda like most heavy metal music. But there have been moments in my life that I can only describe as ‘Lynchian.’ Instances when all of a sudden, I have to check my skull for caved-in spots.
For example, a while back, I was walking down my street when mine was one of only three houses here. I knew the other two homeowners and nothing in their habits would explain away what I saw this day. I walked to the corner, one foot in front of the other as I like to do it, when suddenly my right ankle turned, the ball of my foot wobbling off a something that wasn’t smooth road. My left foot stomped to the rescue, only to be betrayed by a similar fate and I pitched and yawed for what had to be an entire two seconds (which can seem quite a long time if you’re trying not fall down.) The reason for my troubles was simple. And one of the oddest things I’d ever seen. Apparently, God’s golf bag had broken and it had rained hundreds of baby blue golf tees. They were everywhere. WTF? Yeah, things like that.
Another such time came in the middle of a trans-continental red-eye journey from San Diego, on my way home to Washington DC. It was well past midnight and I was minding my own business in the echo-ey and largely deserted domestic terminal of the Dallas/Ft.Worth International Airport. I was reading, sitting alone in the middle link of a chain of rigid chairs in the waiting area at my gate. I’m pretty sure the seats were upholstered in folded pillowcases overlaid with all the black vinyl tablecloths Wal-Mart never sold. Not too great a demand for black table cloths. Someone should have told them. Ah well, their shortsightedness became my gain, as I could not complain, at least, that I was sitting on the bare steel frame. And apparently, it was just going to be me and the pilot on that flight. Everyone else had either got where they were going or weren’t leaving ’til tomorrow.
It was because of this quiet isolation that I had a long time to contemplate the growing jingle-shuffle-thud that began so faintly, I first thought I was imagining it. But as the sound swelled, I started playing Name That Tune while scanning the dim hall for a-janitor-with-too-many-keys-and-a-gimpy-leg or a-flat-tired-wheel-barrow-full-of-teaspoons or a-clown-walking-with-coffee-cans-full-of-pennies-strapped-to
-his-big-clown-shoes. or maybe a-herd-of-metal-shod-chihuahuas-or a, huh?, a sawed off Magnum PI wannabe dragging Pigpen from the Peanuts comic strip, shackled at the wrists and ankles.
It is almost impossible to gawp discretely. My only salvation was that I kept swiveling my head to get a look at the film crew. If they were there, they were a platoon of ninjas. Magnum’s runty brother swaggered in jeans and a giddy Hawaiian shirt, tugging on his disheveled companion’s lead whenever his smirk needed a refill.
I can’t say I felt immediately compassionate in sizing up Pigpen. Call me cynical, but if you find yourself shuffling through a Texas airport, limbs chained to your belt, and the Bonneville Salt Flats puffing out of your pockets, I’m betting you have a penchant for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. He was pathetic: cowlicks saluting every compass point, dust rising off him like steam. He had only one shoe. And it was a flip-flop. Needless to say, he kept his eyes downcast.
Private Dick was a bit of a jokester too. In the empty stadium of the terminal, he found a view that amused him. With much yanking and tussling, he shoved the human dust mop into a seat that went immediately from black to grey in a fine powdering of wherever-he’d-been-rolled. Of course, that seat was two away from my own. Slickyboy grinned, gave me a nod and slid down deep in the seat next to me. I’m pretty sure I heard him chuckle into his crisp floral collar. Pigpen cringed and tried to make himself very small.
And I was simply too polite to change seats.
The last I saw of them was Pigpen stumbling ahead of a great many unnecessary nudges from Fancyshirt to their seats in the back of the plane. I took mine over the wing. I always get sat over the wing. I have no idea why.
I’m sure knowing the rest of the story would have made it a little easier not to wiggle around for a glimpse of the goings on back there. But I don’t really regret my ignorance. There’s nothing to make you feel alive quite like not having the faintest clue as to what just happened.