Why Aren't You Smiling?

Why Aren't You Smiling? by Alvin Orloff Read Free Book Online

Book: Why Aren't You Smiling? by Alvin Orloff Read Free Book Online
Authors: Alvin Orloff
clouds, bright with moonlight, swept above the panorama, accentuating the mystic vastness of the landscape.
    If only Rick or Mordecai were there to share the moment! Gazing at the majestic view, I imagined all the people Out There: young, old, male, female, evil, good, rich, poor, each with their own story. And yet, they were no different than me. We were all one! I visualized faces, and amazingly, started feeling warmly towards them. People were good to their children! People were kind to animals! People were lonely and just wanted to help! The ocean of loneliness separating me from Humanity evaporated. At first gradually and tentatively, then suddenly and sharply, I felt it: LOVE!
    My mind’s eye saw a white light shine out of my heart like something from a Tibetan painting, illuminating the universe and connecting me with all living things – even unlovable things, like Rick’s girlfriend and Douglas Schmidt. The feeling grew so intense I stopped thinking, and the tingly sensation I often got on my scalp when nervous covered my whole body like a bath of static electricity. My entire consciousness became Love, a feeling at once emotionally overwhelming and – this was a surprise – so physically pleasurable my body twitched and trembled.
    After a short interval that was probably no more than a minute or two (without conscious thought it was hard to judge time), the feeling subsided. I climbed down from the tree and made my way back to the street. It would have been wonderful to bathe in Love forever, but apparently I lacked the capacity to hold on to such an intense feeling for more than a moment. Did Saint Francis, Rick, and other Holy People feel such Love all the time? How incredible! Perhaps with the proper religious training I too could dwell eternally in that exalted state. I walked home, empty-headed, exhausted, and elated. Feeling, for once, embraced by the universe, I fell into a deep, contented sleep the moment my head hit my pillow.
    The next morning, a Saturday, I woke up a new man in a new world. The crushing humiliation attending my every waking hour since being singled out in third grade as a teacher’s pet/sissy was gone; the paralyzing fear I would go through life bored and alone, gone; the sickening suspicion I was not exceptional, gone.
    After a quick bowl of oatmeal I went into my room and took down all my posters. Goodbye, Koala Bear. Goodbye, Mountain Lion. Goodbye, map of North America. Goodbye, map of Narnia. Goodbye, National Geographic map of Human Origins. I raided my piggy bank and set off out to find some appropriately enlightened room decorations at a poster shop over by the university I’d seen a thousand times but never entered. I spent over an hour flipping through the available choices before finally settling on an M.C. Escher poster of two hands drawing each other and a poster for the band T-Rex showing the handsome singer Marc Bolan looking blasé while riding a fluorescent orange tiger. I ran home and put them up. Terrific.
    Then, with an extra bounce in my step, I went out to hunt for Rick. The day was balmy and the park fairly seethed with necking, frolicking, and other evidence of young passion. Amid the mostly college-age crowd I saw my classmates Gretchen Biedermeyer and Harvey Miller sprawled out together on the grass. They were kissing with their eyes closed while their hands squirmed across each other’s bodies as if looking for lost keys. I had never seen such ardor and would have gone over for a closer examination, but was distracted and delighted to hear Rick call my name. “Lenny!”
    Actually, I hated being called Lenny. It made me think of the big dumb guy in the book Of Mice and Men, which I hadn’t read but had seen parodied in several cartoons in which a simpleton, Lenny, was forever asking, “Which way did he go, George, which way did he go?” Still, it was Rick, so I didn’t say anything.
    â€œHey, man,” I

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