Linda’s been mad for about two years now and though no one can pinpoint when exactly she lost her mind, we can all pretty much agree that her foray into the world of New Age music marked the beginning of the end. It all started innocuously enough, with a dab of Yanni here and smidge of John Tesh there, but there are tons of Yanni fans all over the world and most of them look and act as normal as you or I. In fact, I have a good friend who has absolutely no issue blasting “Live at the Acropolis” like it was Jay-Z and she was cruising the chock-a-block streets of Brooklyn wreaking all sorts of pre-adolescent MTV-inspired carnage. Now this young lady is a perfectly functional member of white-collar society and any insinuation that the path to madness is paved with Moog keys is simply partisan propaganda. Lunacy, at least the today’s cosmopolitan derivative thereof, is more than just the sum of its parts, so while the folks at Digital Star Streams may tap the symptoms of madness they aren’t necessarily the cause itself. Don’t believe the hype. Or something.
Novelist and Radio Show Host, Garrison Keillor once quipped that New Age music was part of “a vast right-wing conspiracy to make liberals stupid,” and while there may be an undercurrent of ideological validity there, it should not go without noting that even the most rational and grounded amongst us can go a little loopy after prolonged exposure to the upper echelons of the New Age spectrum. It’s as if the synapses start to pulse in accordance with the transient, barely audible beat and we’re transported to a land of fairies and witches and edible rain clouds made of whole wheat toast. I realize this is something of a caricature of a New Age music fan, and that most in fact do not bathe in Patchouli and drape their rooms with dream-catchers. Still, after a constant bombardment of shrieks and sperm whale calls, it’s hardly surprising that some New Age fans tend to act like a cross between Drew Barrymore and Moby.
My supervisor’s wife, Linda, was just such a person although I’m loath to so wantonly dehumanize her as mere stereotype. Linda is a successful civil attorney who raised two healthy and productive daughters and decorated her home in a funky Hershey-Kiss motif that earned her an honorable mention in a trendy North Shore periodical. She has a warm but oddly thespian manner of speech, whereby she articulates each syllable of every word but in hushed, murmuring tones. At the company holiday party about three years ago, pulled me aside to ask my opinion of the Christmas tree on display in the banquet hall’s grand ballroom. Staring at me with sober blue eyes she whispered, “Aren’t you offended? As a Jewish man, don’t you feel disenfranchised?” Her voice maintained its distinct “honey-child” quality all the while her nails burrowed their way into my forearm with mole-like veracity. I assured her, that I was not offended and that my Menorah was both at home and in my heart, thank you very much. I left her standing on the gray marble floor shaking her head and staring angrily out the window.
Linda handed me something last night just outside the entrance of building her husband and I call “work.” It was a small ceramic figurine of a ram with horns that wound their way around its body, python like and full of malice. She was there to pick up her husband who for some reason didn’t drive that morning and had subsequently forgotten his house key. A white plastic bag filled with similar misshapen baubles jingled in her hand as she laughed wearily and told me to make sure I gave it “to someone special.” She looked healthy enough in thin, wire-frame glasses and a black jogging suit with her initials embroidered in pink cursive writing across the chest. For some reason though I was gripped with a distinct feeling of unease, and mumbled a quick “thank you” before walking swiftly down the asphalt to my waiting car.
I don’t know what made me feel so anxious, she did nothing that anyone would construe as a pass or romantic gesture, and Heaven knows she doesn’t have a malicious bone in her body. Yet still, Linda does something to space she occupies, she parts it but then she doesn’t, like a ghost or spirit that’s only halfway there. When I look at her I see someone who understands things about the world few people can reconcile, I see someone who watches neutrinos as they bounce off our eyelids and swim in our pores. I see the shaking hulk of one who’s completely insane.
I left the ram at the Karaoke Bar I went to last night. Let it get it swept away.