The following is a true story.
So it's about 50 degrees under overcast skies. The wind is blowing pretty good. I'm about two and half miles into my five-mile walk.
I'm listening to what might be the most brilliant podcast of all time: Dan Carlin's discourse on the Punic Wars. He is taking a short break from the hand to hand combat in order to muse over violence and media technology, discussing how our modern attitude toward war changed as soon as we had pictures of what the hell was really going on.
And I'm thinking: good and goddamn right he's got a point because if Mom, Dad and the 2.5 Carthagian kids were sitting in their Carthagian split level watching beheadings and rapes and rampant murder going on at the hands of recent Cathage High grads, it might not have gone over so well.
Acourse, the ancient Mediterranean people loved public torture and gladiator-type stuff, so maybe I'm all washed up. Maybe it would of been like Survivor Tunisia. Dunno.
In any event, I'm thinking about war and media and the fact that I'm a writer and how there is a thin undeniable tether between me and some 80,000 Roman guys who drowned in a storm two thousand years ago (80,000 at one time!). And while a big chunk of my mind is focusing on the obvious things Carlin's talking about, another part can't help but digress to all the unsaid details, like whenever an ancient general had to get information to troops afar, he didn't have a telephone or radio. He had a guy on a horse. And weapons? Every single one of them was hammered out on an anvil by a blacksmith whose two main tools were fire and brawn.
When I get into this groove, I'm sort of like a little Erin locomotive, fast and determined. I'm walking hard and breathing hard. I'm trying to rein my mind in and sometimes winning, sometimes losing. (If I see, say, a plastic Halloween skull in a flowerpot, it can stop me. I'll try to take a pic with my phone cam, fail due to a "memory full" error, try again, fail, give up and continue on my walk.) Who cares? It's all good.
That's about where I am I see two figures in the distance.
They are wearing colorful clothing. It is two young women and they are stopping at each house. The girls are crouching and stammering against the wind, stopping to talk into cell phones, looking around in indecision and digging at the sidewalk with a twisting toe, clutching their thin sweaters.
My hands are warm as baked potatoes.
We are almost upon each other. The girls are each holding stacks of McCain/Palin literature. Aha! They are canvassing the neighborhood. We pass.
Three seconds later, I stop dead and press the pause button, interrupting Carlin's description of a major badass named Hamilcar. I turn around and face the girls' receding backs.
"LADIES!" I boom. They turn, stunned, and look at me. "OBAMA 2008!" I announce.
The girls gasp in surprise, look at each other, then scurry away in the opposite direction. I swing back around with flair and continue trekking along sidewalk they've already abandoned. I'm following another guy named Hannibal across the Alps. I'm deciding whether or not to make potato pancakes with dinner.
Previously on "The Real Life Adventures of Erin O'Brien, Girl Writer."
More previously on "The Real Life Adventures of Erin O'Brien, Girl Writer."