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As far as I'm concerned, most nature-themed events are somewhat oversold.

It's not nature's fault. I mean, it's not like nature hires a PR firm and launches a multi-media campaign to generate interest in a meteor shower or turkey vulture migration.

Nature is not Mayweather-Pacquiao. Its general attitude appears to be, "I'm just going to do what I do, including blot out the sun for a bit or grow redwoods taller than your office building. If you all want to sell T-shirts, knock yourselves out."

Which is what I came close to doing on Monday when I started walking while wearing a borrowed pair of cheesy-looking, really dark sunglasses on steroids. Because I, too, had a case of Eclipse Fever.

Yeah, if you're wearing something that allows you to look straight at the sun, chances are you're not going to be able to see a lot more. Like, my car.

Now, despite my reluctant participation, the cavalcade of fuss surrounding the great darkness scheduled to creep over the land seemed like a bit of overkill to me. I mean, am I the only person who thinks it's never a good idea to stare straight into the sun?

As with most things, it's the human component that seems to create opportunities here. Give us the slightest chance to go nuts, ascribe causes that have nothing to do with the fairly simple explanations, turn the whole thing into a marketing campaign and/or throw a party and we're on it like darkness on noon. Or in, our case, 1:18 pm. If you had the special glasses. And weren't really counting on it to be, you know, dark.

That's because, apparently, we weren't in the Zone of Totality, which is a scientific description. And also sounds like where Luke and Han hid out from the Empire. Might be both. I kind of missed all the episodes between the movie with the fuzzy teddy-bear looking deals and the one where everybody was old.

Speaking of movies, I couldn't help but think of all those old films about brave adventurers who, aware of an impending eclipse, freaked out the natives by claiming they were going to make the sun disappear. Thankfully, for the sake of the plot, they were in the Zone of Totality. Because if they weren't, well ...

"No, really, the sun has disappeared. Or at least most of it. It's just that the sun is really bright, so even if I've made MOST of it disappear, it's still pretty light out. You've got to look at it, NO, not right at it. Here, you have to wear these special glasses ... no, no, the other way. And no peeking or you'll burn your retina ... which you have no idea you have ..."

And that's how Adventurer Gumbo gets made.

While we 're on the subject, hats off (or welder's mask, in the case of the guy riding by me on a bicycle wearing that but no shirt, which may actually be something he does all the time.) to teachers whose responsibility it was to corral their charges outside, in the middle of the day and have them remain somewhat orderly while wearing somewhat poorly-fitting glasses.

I mean, most of the time I couldn't guarantee my kids' shoes were on the right feet (or that those were, in fact, their shoes), so managing to get a whole pack of them to keep those glasses on without duct tape may have been more amazing than the eclipse.

For those of us old enough to vote, well, to be honest, the Great Eclipse of 2017 was kind of, well, "meh." We were reminded that the sun, once again, is really, really bright, so even if you cover a lot of it, you're probably not experiencing Twilight in the Afternoon.

But what was fun to experience ( as is typically the case) was all the people. For about an hour on a busy Monday hundreds of us went outside to the parking lot and alternated between staring at the sky and talking.

Kind of like most of my high school, except with more sky-staring and less illicitly purchased beer.

Because, at the end of the day, people are endlessly entertaining, even if the eclipse isn't. Yeah, looking right at you, shirtless welders mask guy. Even if I was wearing really dark glasses.

And if last Monday wasn't entertaining enough, well, apparently the once-in-a-lifetime event takes place again in seven years. So save those glasses (like you don't have lots of things you only use once every seven years?) because next time we're right in the Zone of Totality.

So let the Force be with us.

Commentary on 08/25/2017

Print Headline: Eclipsed by people watching

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