Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Men Are From Mars, Seatteites Are From Venus

NOTE:  I wrote about this Ray Bradbury story the other day, but I'm going to recycle it (with my apologies to *both* my readers!) in honor of the author's passing, which, oddly enough, coincided with the transiting of Venus (read on--you'll see how that ties in!). And, because I'm super lazy.

Living in Seattle, I often think of that old Ray Bradbury story, "All Summer in a Day." I first read this story in elementary school, and it's lingered in the back of my mind ever since. Here's the elevator pitch, from Wikipedia:

The story is about a class of school children on Venus, which in this story is a world of constant rainstorms, where the sun is only visible for two hours every seven years. One of the children, Margot, moved to Venus from Earth five years earlier, and she is the only one in her class to remember sunshine, since it shone regularly on Earth.
A view of Seattle (via NASA)
 Gosh, it's kind of like Margot moved to Seattle from the East Coast...five years ago (are you following the analogy?). Anyway, on the long-awaited Day of Summer, Margot brags about the sun to the Venusians, but they're a all jealous, and the haters lock her in a closet.

As the sun is about to appear, their teacher arrives to take the class outside to enjoy their only hour of sunshine, and in their astonishment and joy, they all forget about Margot. They run, play, skip, jump, and prance about, savoring every second of their newly found freedom. "It's much better than sun lamps!" one of them cries.

Suddenly, a girl feels a raindrop on her. Thunder sounds, and they run back inside. Then, one of them remembers Margot, who is still locked in the closet. They stand frozen ashamed for what they have done, unable to "meet each other's glances."

 The past two weeks have been intolerably gloomy. I want to write a sternly worded letter to someone about how Seattle is being cheated of its tiny window of sunshine-times, but I'm not sure where to send it. It's Obama's fault, I'm sure--all that Socialism is the reason the sun doesn't have a reason to come out and do its job!

But, today, there was about an hour or so when the sun came out. It's amazing how different the world looked. Everything seemed better. Everything WAS better. Problems--mine, yours, the world's--seemed to disappear. It was like being on some weird sort of drug.

I spent most of my formative years in Florida, so I know--as does everyone who's ever turned on an episode of COPS in Jacksonville--that sunshine is not exactly a panacea that will make everyone happy all the time. Like the various pharmaceuticals people make in trailers in various parts of Jacksonville, you build up a tolerance to it. After a while, being in the sun doesn't even make you happy any more. Maybe that's why Florida has so many meth labs? They don't have those momentary glimpses of sun in the midst of darkness, so they have to turn to drugs?

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