Eighty-four million people watched the presidential debate, but I was not one of them. Which came as a surprise to many of my friends, since I tend to overdose on the news from a variety of media.
But I hit an information wall in this year’s election. I just couldn’t take it any more. Radio, television, newspapers, websites – all were exploding with pre-debate froth and blather, as if the candidates were about to engage in a mixed martial arts match instead of a debate of words. Commentators were commenting on the commentators who were commenting on the commentators commenting on the candidates – it had gotten that ridiculous.
So I went for a walk, an hour and a half, timed for the length of the debate. In that 90 minutes I saw a total of three cars on Lawndale Road. No one was around – probably they were all part of the 84 million. It was very eerie and quiet, as if everyone had been abducted by aliens and I was the only human left on the planet, destined to live with the remaining animals I encountered along the way.
Two hogs were enjoying their late afternoon dirt bath, with a small fawn standing on the other side of their fence. I’m not sure what they were talking about, but they looked at me funny. I strolled by horses and a cow, scattered two hares, raised the ire of some dogs, and of course spied multiple squirrels.
It was extremely peaceful and cleansing, especially knowing that the alternative was to be sitting in front of the TV getting agitated. Life was much better walking. I wondered how far I could go before I saw another human.
I took inventory of the properties that I knew about. The lady that lived over there made jam that won prizes at the Sonoma County Fair. Up that hill cops busted a chop shop years ago. Over there lives one of my kid’s old soccer coaches. There’s the property that briefly housed a porn studio. Down that driveway one year there was a summer solstice gathering of wiccans. There’s the house that was once home to a holistic healthcare facility for about 50 old cats. A big pot grow over there, one of my sons wiped out on his bike right here...if this road could talk, it would have some colorful tales.
At a certain point I turned around because it was going to get dark in about a half an hour. This summer there were a couple of mountain lion sightings about this time of day. Not exactly what I wanted to run into all by myself. I veered onto Schultz Road for a loop back to Lawndale. A squirrel was down the road and for some reason it started to run at me at full speed, like it wanted to jump into my arms. In my best squirrel, I told him to back off, and he veered away.
I finally got back to the house after the 90 minutes, figuring it was safe. I came in as the debate was just about over, and heard the candidates saying, “Rosie O’Donnell,” and “Miss Universe.” Obviously I hadn’t missed much.
I went back outside.