There’s a place between Namibia and New York called Monotonyville. It’s not a charming little town; there’re no “hot spots” that one must check out. In Monotonyville, there are no quaint inns, no interesting residents, and no entertainment of any sort. To write about Monotonyville makes me sleepy, but it’s important to spread the word about this place, so you never wind up here. If you ever visit, it’s next to impossible to leave. It’s rumored that in 1832 a few runaway slaves wound up in Monotonyville, and one was heard to have remarked, “I’d rather have my feet disintegrate while running to Canada than rest for one more nanosecond in this place.”
On the surface, one would think that Monotonyville’s a great place to be, as all its residents wear smiles. Empty smiles that convey nothing, but smiles nonetheless. The men and women always greet each other with one of three salutations: Good morning, Howdy, Good day!
One of the rules of the town is that throughout the day it’s necessary to maintain a steady stream of small talk. Failure to engage in meaningless chatter leads to either exile or unsolitary confinement (unsolitary confinement is where multiple residents of Monotonyville surround the accused in a wall of conversation about exercise/fashion/weight loss/child-rearing/weather/reality shows and ending any and all conversations with a final outlook on weather conditions, “Yep, it’s raining cats and dogs. Cats and dogs I say.”
A few days ago, an amazing 68 year-old Argentinian woman rolled into town. Her name is Elvira. I know the word “amazing,” by mandate, is only superfluously and superficially used in Monotonyville, but I’m being sincere. She had a smile with something behind it, zest and blood-red nails. It seemed she had made a wrong tun on her way to Buenos Aires and wound up here. She asked for my help in getting out, with a guidebook or a map, to which I responded, “Lady if I knew how to get out of here, would we be talking now?” She looked at me gravely, and said “There’s still hope for you.”
Hope. In Monotonyville, we don’t speak often of hope, as we think “This is how things are supposed to be.” Like religionists, we believe that our lives are carved out in rocks, and hope died with John Lennon. This blood-red-nailed woman, Elvira, informed me that hope hadn’t died…it was indeed alive, and at the moment sipping Ketel One martinis with Jesse Jackson in a neighboring town.
Let me tell you a little about Elvira: she told me that she’s 68, but she looks 50. She’s obviously had a face-lift (maybe many). She got married two months ago for the third time; this time to a “fun-loving” guy and not a “stick in the mud like the last one.” She’s never had kids, and never wanted any. She divorced her first husband, because he wanted to move to California. She thinks California is “one big suburb,” just a tad more interesting than Monotonyville. She divorced her second husband after less than a year because they “didn’t click.” Her best advice was “Girl, you have to live because you’re only promised death.”
Elvira brought the promise of hope to Monotonyville, and told me to spread the word that hope’s alive. She got out of this one-policeman-on-a-horse town, but she left her magic, her energy, and her wisdom that life’s not to be simply endured half-asleep, but to be truly lived.