Thursday, October 30, 2014


An intriguing news item: a middle-aged man attends a Denver Bronco football game. At half-time, he simply disappears--with, apparently, no credit card, little cash, and only the clothes he's wearing.  He has no mobile, and therefore can't be reached by phone.  Police efforts to trace him as a missing person fail to find him. His disappearance attracts national media attention: CNN, Fox News, ESPN all carry the story, but apparently he's not watching television news…

A week goes by before he finally shows up.  A man "fitting his description" is found in a Kmart parking lot, a hundred miles from the site of his disappearance.  Police reported that he was found in good health, "speaking and answering questions intelligibly that were asked of him."  Without any personal means of transportation, he seemingly walked for most the the hundred miles.  His explanation: that he'd gotten bored with the football game and decided to go for a walk.  He was looking for "somewhere warmer" and had been sleeping in "tree'ed areas and bushes" along the way.

Paul Kitterman, Broncos fan
My fantasy?  The man's a delightful dreamer.  I like his generous mustache, and the crow's feet that seem caused more by good humor rather than age.  (Oh, yes, he's only 53.)  I can't blame him for leaving the football game: the last one I saw myself was a total bore.  Now that the NFL is so thoroughly commercialized, there seems to be an interminable wait between every play while the television stations air their ads.  The actual action on the field is pretty minimal and predictable.  So much for football.  It would take an awful lot of self-supplied testosterone to get a kick out of it.

But look at his smile.  Beatific, almost, wouldn't you say? He's happy to have his back to the football field behind him.  What are they doing, anyway?  Measuring the yardage?  Moving the chains?  The men in black seen strolling across the field give a sense of suspended action.  And look at those half-empty stands.  Not a great deal of excitement there, either.

So he left.  Wandered off.  Found more interesting and engaging things in his own head.  A hundred-mile walk!  What a concept!  I imagine him strolling off with his beatific smile through the parking lot and out into the surrounding neighborhood.  He barely notices his fellow pedestrians, let alone the cars.  He's happy when he finally reaches the edge of the suburbs and strides out into the countryside.  He breathes in the air, finally unleashed from the city's grip, feeling better than he has for years.  He's alone.  No one to talk with, no one to talk at him.  No bad news to be subjected to!  No ISIS!  No election politics!  No hatred and contention!  A kind of ecstasy…

If it feels so good, then why go back?  What better than to keep on going, into the dusk, the twilight, soon the night?  What better than to make a bed amongst the fragrant pine needles, perhaps looking up into the starlit sky?  To fall asleep untrammeled by the usual trappings of the civilized life!  To wake, at dawn, to the sound of birds?  Ah, this is living…

I'm probably romanticizing.  Maybe the poor guy had a hell of a week, fighting off the cold and hunger.  He had little enough money, no credit cards, how could he have even stopped at wayside restaurants to eat?  Perhaps he got tired of the dirty clothes and the sore feet.  Still, no sign that he was begging for help when he was "found."  No sign of physical or mental distress.  Was his dream shattered by his discovery?  Was he secretly hoping NEVER to "go home"?

There's no telling, of course.  All I have are the media reports.  He'll probably show up on the Today Show in a few days' time, to be interviewed by Matt Lauer about his wayward ways.  But I hope not.  I hope that he stays silent.  And I hope he never loses that beatific smile.

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