Let's say I vanish. How long would it take before anyone noticed? That's a little personal mental game that I have been playing for decades now. Here are three editions.
I'm not here
This isn't happening
Not only is Colin's bass line here absolutely perfect, this song should be held up as a shining example of "how to use an Ondes Martenot."
Late fall 1999. I've been in France nearly three weeks. My first trip out of the country, and I went alone. By this time in the trip, I have made many new friends (several of whom remain friends to this day), had unforgettable experiences, and was nearly out of funds. I was also at this point alone in Arles... maybe that place has a general deleterious effect on mental health. The enthusiastic and amazed "I'm not here/this isn't happening" feelings from earlier in the trip had fallen away, and the loneliness began to clothe itself in those same words. I strolled alongside the Rhône one night, giving serious consideration to hopping over the barrier into the black water below and letting it take me to the Mediterranean. This thought appeared over and over: not a single human being has any idea where I am right now. If I jump, how long before anyone finds out who I was or where I was from? Would anyone even bother to ask?
China 2009. I am in a city with millions of people. It is the weekend. I am alone. I am alone, but I am conspicuous. I tower over the vast majority of the surrounding humans, and I am much darker than them. People stare. People ask to have their photos taken with me. I can't communicate, as I don't speak Cantonese. It is hot and the humidity is stifling. The subway is sparkling clean, air conditioned, and has signs that sometimes resemble English. Despite being a very foreign person in what to me is a very foreign land, at no point do I feel unsafe... uneasy, yes... unsafe, no. Surely there is crime somewhere, but I don't see any. Surely there is abject poverty, but in the tiny pieces of the city I pass through, I don't see any. The thought is back: not a single human being has any idea where I am right now. What happens if I have an accident? What happens if I disappear? It is Saturday, and I don't have to go back to the office until Monday. Surely someone would notice on Monday that I didn't arrive at work. What happens then? Do they call the hotel? I don't have a mobile phone that functions in this country, so it is impossible to call me. Would anyone even bother to search? Are morgues here even set up to accommodate someone of my height?
Summer 2003. I have driven West on I-10 from El Paso to Tucson. I have passed a border patrol checkpoint not all that close to the border that made no sense at all to someone who grew up in the Midwest. I have passed saguaro cactus that I have only seen in cartoons and on television. I have made this trip to attend a convention. I don't have any friends here. I spend the weekend alone. To this day, I don't remember any of the content from the convention, I don't remember any of the meals I might have consumed, I don't remember any of the sights or sounds of Tucson. I remember only the sweltering desert heat and the overwhelming loneliness. My friends and family are nearly two thousand miles east and north. Here comes that thought: not a single human being has any idea where I am right now. If I melt into the desert, how long before anyone even realizes that I'm missing? Will anyone even notice?
I play this game less frequently these days because, well, we're in a pandemic and I have turned into a hermit. Now that we are a one car household, the most readily available form of transportation for me is my legs. If I take the car, my wife would notice. If she gets home with the car and I'm not here, she would notice. Some games outlive their utility.