Thursday, March 24, 2011

Dumb Old Ordinary Moon

I meant to be like a cool dad and pile the family into the station wagon (well, the Honda Accord) and drive to the top of Arlington, Robbins Farm, with the unimpeded view of Boston and the eastern horizon. There to see, no, behold, the rising of the supermoon, as big and astonishing as a giant yellow banana custard pie, 20% bigger than normal full moons because it's at the perigee of its orbit or something, a position it achieves once every 18 years.

But I forgot.

Until my father-in-law came up from downstairs to suggest we go outside to see the brightest moon there has ever been. (Doh!)

So we all trooped dutifully outside, but by then it was an hour or two above the housetops, floating free, with no horizon's trappings and trimmings to show off its hugeness. In the words of my friend Kitty Colton, who also arrived late, but expected more, it was just the dumb old ordinary moon.

Which is extraordinary enough!
Yeah, yeah, be quiet. Next time I have a chance to see the supermoon I'll be eighty. If I'm lucky. And watch, it'll turn out to be overcast that night. And I'll think back to the one I missed when I was sixty-two.

Did you see the Twenty Eleven Supermoon, old-timer? they'll ask. (Long whistle of appreciation) I heard it was "awesome"! (They'll say it in patronizing quotes, the way people say "groovy" now.) Was it as awesome as they say? "Awesomer," I'll mutter, and describe the rising pie I never actually saw, except in my imagination.

I'll tell a Baron Von Munchausen tale about how the moon was so close you could put up a ladder and climb onto it and go bounding around like a kangaroo. And people went skateboarding in the craters and you could breathe because it was sharing Earth's atmosphere. And people took tons of photos of themselves on the ladder or at the foot of the ladder looking up, like some old postcard with the caption "WOTTA MOON!" And then, of course, the moon would edge away, gradually at first, like a big ship leaving the harbor, and then little by little putting out to sea, or sky. And maybe a few misguided adventurers from Kansas or Honolulu or Papua-New Guinea decided to remain on board the moon for an 18-year hitch until it came back to port. Their families and loved ones had begged and pleaded for them to change their minds, but no, they were moonstruck, you could see it in their eyes.

"Look for me when the moon is full or in last quarter," they'd say in a hoarse dreamy voice like Henry Fonda as Tom Joad at the end of The Grapes of Wrath. "Wherever you see a lunar eclipse on a night where the wind is blowing the October leaves across the sky, I'll be there. And wherever two lovers are a-settin' silhouetted against the moon of June while they listen to a crooner croon a tune—but not Pat Boone; anyone but Boone, even Lorna Doone—I'll be there..."

At which point they will totally give me up as a crazy old geezer, even making the circular sign with their forefinger, the international signal for barmy, loony-tunes, batty as a ballpark. And all because I felt like I had to enlarge the dumb old ordinary moon.

But that's what it's there for!

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