I bet half the time you tap your horn at a car seemingly parked under a green light…if it’s not some bonehead tapping out a message on his phone or a carb-starved desperado making a panicked lunge to unwrap and cram a breakfast burrito past quivering lips…it’s somebody lost down the rabbit hole. You know how this goes…I’m pretty sure we all do it…usually, it’s a thought, three thoughts down the road from an NPR news story or song on the radio. Often this happens to me during a routine drive in the car when my brain is happily running at idle…then suddenly, somewhere in the middle of some folksy song about heartache, my brain sparks, jumps the shark and latches on to some vaguely adjacent thread of thought and runs with it like a hooked fish.
The first thought is just a small pang perhaps, a twinge of regret about long gone nights when I was snuggled in bed reading my children to sleep. One of their favorites was Curious George.
(Jump) “What was the Man in the Yellow hat doing capturing monkeys anyway?” I asked my kids one night. I’d read the damn story to the two of them a hundred times and sometimes I went off track. “Who does that?” One of them (I can’t remember which one) giggled and suggested that perhaps the Man in the Yellow hat was going to eat the monkey. “No one eats monkeys,” I shouted, letting them know I had taken the bait. But in my heart I knew what I’d said wasn’t quite true. Humans would eat anything if they got hungry enough.
(Jump) I remember reading that AIDS was transmitted to humans from someone somewhere (in Africa I presumed) eating infected monkey flesh. (Jump) Is monkey on the menu anywhere in the world? Braised and dripping in a savory peppercorn sauce? (Jump)…to an image of people raising monkeys like we raise cattle in the States. Massive monkey farms, thousands of monkeys being rounded up, monkey cowboys luring the livestock with bananas into a sinister looking slaughterhouse, discreetly tucked at the far end of the monkey farm. The slaughterhouse is painted deceptively fun colors…pink and green and blue…but beyond the playful facade it’s clearly a dark and foul place. One monkey realizes what’s happening (because of the ghastly smell escaping the place perhaps) and he turns and tries to raise the alarm…monkey pandemonium breaks out… Terrible monkey shrieks ensue…I sense my eyes are glazed a bit while I’m living out the monkey holocaust taking place in my head…(Jump) I’m serving a roast to the kids one night and my daughter raises a forkful of meat to her mouth…it’s glistening with gravy…”What kind of meat is this?” A tight smile comes to my lips. ”Remember when I told you people don’t eat monkeys? I was wrong…it’s all the rage now. And…it was on sale!”
What I’m really looking for is a story line...a trail that unfolds before me inviting my mind to take a little trip. Long forgotten memories pop up in the Rabbit Hole as well as full blown fantasies where in the story line might include my wife loves me as much as she did when we first met…my children respect me. Ha…those are fun thoughts… but they’re so far blown from reality that they don’t play out for long. I had my picture on the cover of TIME MAGAZINE once and when my son asked me what that was all about I told him it was for being father of the year. He laughed in my face! (look it up! May 26th, 2003)
A word to the wise… You have to be careful when diving down the Rabbit Hole. Try to keep one eye on reality so you don’t completely forget where you’re going in your car…that’s happened…or you start half believing what you cooked up in the Rabbit Hole (some wild revenge fantasy involving the knucklehead who cut you off on the interstate…it involves a hammer and many, many ten penny nails…) and when you step out of your car you’re wondering why you feel the need for a stiff drink and a cigarette. Make sure you shake it lose before you step back out into the public world. Someone will take one look at your face and ask, “What the hell are you thinking about?” You won’t want to answer that one.