Matter of Certain Gravity
||Man was that a good day.
We (about thirty thousand of us) had driven into the Eastern Washington
sagebrush to see a festival taking place in an amphitheater that had
been dynamited out of the side of a cliff overlooking the Columbia
River. The sun burned down on us, with water selling better than anything
besides suntan lotion. A writhing sea of people crowded the stage,
and the mass of humanity extended all the way up the semicircle of
deep, verdant grass.
A mix of incense, clove cigarettes, and pot wafted around us, and
the only things to look at were the sky, the surrounding cliffs, people,
and the stage. Girls and boys clad in the legal minimum looked at
each other in non-threatening nonchalance, and from our viewpoint
we looked, straining, in hopes of a glimpse of our heroes on the stage.
(Their actions would make interesting conversations at future parties.)
Everything was running smoothly, all of us having our little adventure
of bohemianism and cultural overload, forgetting about the real world
and humanity's curse of the tendency of cruelty. It was like Christmas
in the middle of the summer! Besides the fact that a burrito cost
seven dollars, it was heaven. I swear.
Next to me, Nate would occasionally remark about some girl with large
breasts or some freak with white or purple hair, and I would just
grin and say "Yeah", or something equally as stupid. We
even saw some guy in drag. About half way through the concert, some
guy came out on the stage and told us how stupid we were, and how
we were all lemmings, and how the concert promoters were taking our
money straight to the bank. I guess that's the price you have to pay
if you aren’t creative enough to entertain yourself. Nate yelled
"Fuck you, asshole!" at the guy, but I don't think the guy
About halfway through some all-girl band's set something strange really
happened. We were just kicking back, marveling the novelty of a bunch
of girls playing rock and roll, Nate telling me how he would like
to "Get some of that", and me just grinning like an idiot
as usual, when something impossibly unexpected happened. A weird cloud
appeared way off on the horizon, and for a moment no one was really
sure what it was.
Then we figured it out.
It was a familiar shape, but only from old black and white photos
and films that we had seen in high school, or on PBS. It was an orange-tinted
mushroom cloud, barely discernable from our distance. Then another
bloomed, and another. And another.
Everyone contemplated the ramifications of these events for a second
or two, and wondered about their family and friends over in the deadly
Nate looked at me, wide-eyed, and said: "Oh, shit."
I just kept on grinning.