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Why the Coming Eclipse is Like First-Time Sex

Jeannie Ralston has seen 2 solar eclipses and her reaction was the same as bad sex: "Was that it?" She isn't falling for the hype this time.

Maybe it’s because I live nowhere near the “totality” zone (and my ex-husband is smack in the middle of it), but I am so done with eclipse hype. To me, it’s feeling eerily similar to when I lost my virginity so many moons (ha ha) ago.

Back then there was endless build up over the whole thing, so much chatter about it with friends, and then when the time finally arrived–bam!–it was over in minutes. In the case of the eclipse, expect about four minutes. I actually think my first roll in the hay was longer than that!

I merely shrug and feel like an astrological asshole.

The reason I know the eclipse is oversold is that I’ve actually experienced two eclipses and they did not change my life. They barely changed my day.

Yet I know lots and lots of people who are in party mode, planning road trips on Sunday or early Monday to get themselves into the totality zone. “I know I’ll be part of a huge traffic jam leaving the city, but still,” one Manhattan pal said.

A friend in Austin is gushing about her $150 tickets to an Eclipse Party just a bit west of the city. Really? I merely shrug and feel like an astrological asshole.

Read More: That Apollo 11 Night, 50 Years Later: Reflections on What We Found and Lost

1970 Solar Eclipse

solar eclipse effects
Photos of the monumental event when the author was 9.

When I was nine years old, I remember an amateur star-gazer neighbor set up a telescope in a way that projected the moon’s journey across the sun onto a cardboard box. I remember thinking that I could achieve the same effect by moving my thumb across a flashlight beam.

I remember thinking that I could achieve the same effect by moving my thumb across a flashlight beam.

I was so disappointed that I couldn’t look at the sun. I’d been warned in the most serious tones that I’d be blinded for life, so I just sat and stared at the cardboard box.

I do remember that it got a bit dark in the middle of the day, but it was dusky–not pitch black. The main difference between that experience and what happened every day in the summer when I was out playing was that my mother wasn’t calling me to come home and take a bath.

2017 Solar Eclipse

solar eclipse effects
The author with her son and the cool NASA glasses in 2017.

There was no telescope for my most recent eclipse. But my oldest son–who was stopping at home after finishing an internship with NASA–brought with him viewing glasses with the space agency logo, which was way cool.

The glasses were certainly a step up from the cardboard box shadow puppetry of the ’70s.

My husband, son and I stepped out on the deck and looked through the glasses for a few minutes. I awaited either ecstasy–or blindness. Neither one came. I thought our dogs might at least get stirred up, but they spent the eclipse snoozing and drooling as if it were a normal lazy day.

The glasses were certainly a step up from the cardboard box shadow puppetry of the ’70s, but I couldn’t quite get a handle on what I was seeing or not. Again, all that I perceived was a duskiness that felt very normal and, as such, underwhelming.

The Last Solar Eclipse of Our Lifetime?

If I express any negativity to eager “eclipsers,” they remind me that this will be the last solar eclipse in the U.S. in our lifetime. The next total solar eclipse to occur in the contiguous U.S. won’t be until August 2044 in Montana and North Dakota, and the next to span coast-to-coast is slated for 2045, according to NASA.

First, with any luck, I could still be alive in the mid ’40s.

Plus, I think I’m jaded by all the “last chance” scenarios. I feel like every time the Stones do a tour, it’s billed as the very “last chance” to see them. And think about all the “retired” athletes who keep coming back.

I’m distrustful of hype that tries to create urgency, and I’m staunchly resisting all efforts to create FOMO in the vast majority of the country that is left out of the totality swath. But I will be on a plane high in the sky at the appointed hour on Monday, and wouldn’t that be crazy if I had the best view of all. So who has FOMO now?

Read More: You Have to Prove You’re Over 70 to Drink This Beer

By Jeannie Ralston


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