My stormy love affair with Thoreau
I read Walden when I was 15, young enough to take it seriously and spend the next several years quoting from it.
I took my share of transcendentalist walks in the desert, looking for blissful communion with nature and getting jabbed with cactus needles for my trouble.
“We do not ride on the railroad, it rides upon us” was the reason I traded my car for a bicycle, the reason I didn’t have a computer, the reason I felt miserable every time I was in a shopping center or big box store.
“Beware of all enterprises that require new clothes” was my justification for owning only one pair of shoes at a time, usually hiking boots which I wore for every occasion—summer and winter, job interviews and anniversary dinners.
But now I more than suspect that Thoreau was the kind of guy I’d want to punch if I met him in person.
What kind of hero is a guy who died a 44-year-old virgin?
Who lived off his parents’ wealth and then had the nerve to write self-righteously about it?
If he somehow showed up in my life, a Romantic couch surfer back from the dead, I’d probably slam down my whisky glass Bogart style, grab him by the lapels, give him a good shake, and say, “Listen, Hank. It’s time for you to man the fuck up.”
Then I’d take him to one of those highway bars with the blue neon signs, and buy him a gin and tonic and a blowjob.