The Charlotte Letters: A Chance Encounter, No Thank You


If, by chance encounter, our eyes meet in the sunlight as we pass one another on the slender walkways of campus, I invite you to give me a cordial smile and nod. Out of respect and, depending on who you are, perhaps deference, I will do the same. As the sun sets behind ‘The Knoll, or, the Organic Farm and a Bunch of Other Things That Also Happen Here (Please Continue to Fund Us),” and the shadows gain weight, so does my patience for niceties. 

I have found others on this campus who understand the significance of nightfall. That once darkness hits and the moon glides gently past our eyes, the time for niceties ceases. We become solitary creatures, silhouettes rather than substantive beings. Unlike the moon, we wish our presence to be immaterial to the happenings of the darkness.  

The odd duck, however, might find night to be a time for socializing, and this is a grave error I find in need of rectifying. This is all to say, if you see me on the pathway in front of Johnson at 1AM, do not make eye contact. Do not smile. Do not acknowledge my presence, for anyone who journeys out at night inherently does not wish to be seen. 

These rules apply strictly to the natural world. Children, you may think yourselves clever, as it appears I have allowed for a loophole in my philosophy. Unfortunately for you, you are not more cleverer than I. For I have considered this, and will allow for the following exception: parties. Night may also be a time for revelry, and if you choose to spend the darkness bathed in the sticky sweat of others, I will not be the one to stand in your way. 

However, if you find yourself journeying alone along the pathways at eventide, and think it smart to attempt to engage another solitary, you might consider thinking again. Author and fellow Oxfordian J. R. R. Tolkien wrote, “Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens.” Well, I do not consider myself faithless, but I will mostly say farewell when the road darkens. In fact, I will dance a farewell dance and skip back to my cocoon, where I must rest and rejuvenate before beginning another day in full. It is in fact my opinion that Tolkien wrote Gimli as saying these lines as an indication that the author himself is not a total believer in what was written, since it is universally acknowledged that Gimli is only the fourth coolest and second sexiest member of the Fellowship (the first on both accounts being Gandalf.) 

Anyway, who’s your favorite ghost? Mine is the ghost of Michael Furey from James Joyce’s “The Dead,” whose story is one of a love so powerful it leads to his demise. That or The Ghost of Captain Cutler from the episode “A Clue for Scooby Doo” of the original “Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!” It’s probably a tie. Feel free to send me correspondence of your favorite ghost. Just not at night on the pathways between campus edifices (ha-ha!)

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