Under the dome

I looked up “Indian summer” and “false spring” and neither term refers exactly to a 73-degree mid-February day. So what to call yesterday’s weather? Stupid, I guess. Or glorious, if you prefer to be womanish about it.


A recently rediscovered high school classmate asked me if I’m on Facebook and I told her about the week I spent there hallucinating and puking in the gutter. Facebook-intolerance is less widely acknowledged than gluten-intolerance, but it’s every bit as real.


The economy is in decline, isn’t it? Even as pockets of viability remain. Like the pocket where my friends Buren and Dottie make their living as owners of a small touring theater company. The image that comes to mind of them and me and others like us is of a scene from Stephen King’s Under the Dome …

All the breathable air has been sucked out of a small town in Western Maine. What’s left is dense, hot, poisonous gas. A tiny band of survivors clings to life by pressing faces to the barrier that’s sprung up around the town. Giant industrial fans there force a puff of air in from the outside. But here’s the part I’m remembering …

In order to disable the device that’s generating the barrier, two characters must leave the place where the air is being forced in, scant as it is, and travel half a mile back into the caustic gloom where the device lies anchored by unseen forces to the ground. They survive the journey by carrying with them one spare tire apiece. They’ve punctured the tires and they breath the air that leaks from them.

That’s sort of how it feels to be surviving in this economic landscape without extraordinary effort.

Eventually, the dome will have to be lifted if any of us are to get out alive, but for now, it’s as if we’ve discovered a simple, elegant survival trick known to very few. I’m not at all sure what that trick is, but it does seem to be working.