WILSON: As the world falls over
Big John Hudson burst through the front door of Sarah’s Diner, thumped his ball cap down on the round oak table with the fervor of a circuit rider evangelist at a tent revival meeting, and proclaimed, “The Earth is going to tip over sideways.”
“Which way should it tip?” asked Harrison Winkle — having responded out of habit, and not from actually listening to the meaning of Big John’s words.
“It could tip up,” Mort added. “Then, we could use it for ice fishing.” As an avid fisherman suffering through an unseasonably warm winter, the word tip-up made him Jones for a warm shanty on thick ice.
“Maybe it could tip inside-out,” offered Firewalker, as he tried to envision how that might work. His coffee hadn’t kicked in and the conversation was leading him to places he really didn’t want to go.
“Which side is it going to tip to?” asked Jimmy. “The left or the right?” Jimmy could always be counted on to grab on to the nuts and bolts of any of Big John’s cockamamie ideas.
“I’m telling you,” Big John chided, “the Earth is going to topple right on over.”
Like far too many people, John thought prefacing any claim with, “I’m telling you…,” would lend credence to his statement. With those three words, everyone should just automatically know he knew what he was talking about. However, that was a hard sell to the other members of the Circular Congregation Breakfast Club — fools might buy it in the big city, but not here at the Center of the Universe (our fools are smarter than that).
“So it’s going to tip over on the right side?” Jimmy asked. “Just to clarify what you meant when you said it would topple right over. You meant the right side, right?” Jimmy was still trying to drill down to the core of John’s statement — or he might have just been messing with him.
“I read about it on the internet,” John explained.
Tommy Jones, the octogenarian elder statesman of the group, groaned under the weight of John’s words. When Tommy wasn’t out chasing wild women, he tended to be the most logical member of the group. “The internet is for entertainment, complaining about people you don’t like, and pictures of kittens”.
“And porn,” added Firewalker.
“Sure, yeah. Porn, too,” agreed Big John. “But, there’s science type stuff on the internet, too,” he added.
Everyone at the table stopped eating and looked up from their breakfasts, astonished that Big John Hudson might be delving into “science type stuff”.
“I read that most of the world’s land mass is above the equator,” John expounded. “That means all the weight is at the top. The Earth is getting top-heavy. As soon as enough geese fly back north and land in the trees up in Canada, the weight is going to shift and it’s all going to fall over! I’m telling you, it is going to fall over and spin sideways.” Again, John felt the need to improve his gravitas by telling the group that he was telling them something.
“So…,” Firewalker slowly began his follow-up question. The caffeine was kicking in, and he was starting to get a handle on the conversation. “When is all this going to happen? Are we talking a gazillion years from now, or a week from next Thursday?”
“Who knows? It could be in another hundred years, or so,” John waved his hands in the air for added effect. Apparently, flailing one’s arms around, while telling someone that you are telling them something, was a powerful way to assert validity.
“A hundred years?” pooh-poohed Harry. “No point in worrying about something we can’t fix after we’re all dead and gone.”
“I’ll still be here,” Tommy scoffed.
Larry Wilson is a mostly lifelong resident of Niles. His essays stem from experiences, compilations and recollections from friends and family. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org