Extroverted Before Breakfast (Part 2)

Continued from: Extroverted Before Breakfast (Part 1)

Recently Ariel and I were planning a trip to a place where we knew there would be lots of stairs and cobblestone streets. It would be hard to drag around the kind of luggage that goes on little wheels, so Ariel got herself a new suitcase that had shoulder straps so you could wear it like a backpack. And because Ariel can sometimes be very organized and methodical, she decided that before we left the country she would try out the new suitcase to see how practical it would be for walking long distances. She stuffed it full of clothes and announced that she was going to wear it around the house for an hour or so.

This was early in the morning, and after a while Ariel remembered that there was a tree in the front yard that needed to be sprayed. The tree had some bugs on it, or maybe a fungus. Ariel has a fancy high-volume sprayer that hooks up to the garden hose, and she has an arsenal of natural and organic things to spray on distressed plant life. There’s garlic, pepper spray, various sorts of oils: really most of it seems very tasty. When Ariel douses the yard it smells like a salad, and if I were an insect I think it would mostly just whet my appetite. But my point, just now, is that Ariel was standing out in the front yard with a suitcase strapped conspicuously to her back, spraying a large stream of water up into the trees, at just about 8:00 in the morning.

I opened a window so she could hear me and I said: “You know, I think a lot of the neighbors will be driving by pretty soon on their way to work.”

Ariel has a one-word response that she often deploys in cases like this. She said: “So?”

“Well,” I pointed out, “you look like a demented Ghostbuster.”

Again: “So?”

The neighbors did begin to drive by, and they all gave Ariel a friendly wave. She waved back. No one seemed to consider that she was doing anything unusual. When the neighbors returned home in the evening, they probably said to each other, “I saw Ariel this morning – she’s so nice, and she takes such good care of her yard.” What I’d like to stress here is that Ariel is a small, pleasing-looking person with a nice smile, and people instinctively like her. In contrast, I myself am tall, thin, and sort of gaunt-looking. I don’t have as much hair as I used to. I often don’t sleep well, which doesn’t help my appearance. If the neighbors had seen me in that same position, I’m guessing the comments would have been more like this: “I saw that Fidge this morning. He was wearing a suitcase and spraying water in the air. Maybe we should report him. He probably has something to do with those missing Girl Scouts.”

Oh well. We cautious neurotics aren’t looking for popularity. But it’s interesting how often we end up paired with dangerously impulsive renegades like Ariel, which is a good thing. It enables us to perform our vital role as the universe’s public-relations police. And it keeps us all from being together in one place, which is a prospect too depressing to contemplate.

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