I’d been hearing about the eclipse that was to strike on August 21st for months beforehand but I’d only been half paying attention to the information that was released about it (okay, probably more like a quarter paying attention) and I hadn’t bothered to read about the details. The day before the eclipse was to strike, I was under the impression that it would be a lunar eclipse, that it would not be visible in New Jersey and that solar eclipse glasses were just an accessory for enhanced viewing, rather than a necessity.
On the night of August 20th I found out that all these ideas I had about the eclipse were wrong. It would be a solar eclipse, it would be visible in New Jersey and the eclipse glasses were needed to protect the eclipse viewer from blindness. One of my earliest memories is of watching a lunar eclipse in the parking lot of the elementary school across from my childhood home but I had never seen a solar eclipse. It would be several years until another solar eclipse became visible and given the current state of the world, I wasn’t sure I’d get to see that one so this could be a once in a lifetime opportunity.
As eager as I was to see the solar eclipse, I wasn’t willing to go blind for it. Unfortunately my characteristic poor planning and lack of attention to detail meant I had not obtained eclipse glasses. As these characteristics are genetic, my mother had not obtained eclipse glasses either. However, all hope was not lost. The Princeton Library had 400 pairs of glasses to hand out the next day and if we were lucky we might obtain a pair of glasses to share between us.
The next morning my father’s girlfriend Gabrielle called to ask if I wanted to come see the eclipse with her and her daughter in Princeton. I told her that I was already planning on going there with my mother and asked if she had eclipse glasses. She said she did not but she had put together a shoe box contraption for eclipse viewing. When I told her that the library was handing out glasses, she told me she’d called the library but they’d informed her they were out of them. Since the library’s website said they wouldn’t start handing out classes until 1 p.m., I figured the language barrier had caused Gabrielle to misunderstand what the library employee said to her.
When we arrived in Princeton we learned that it was no misunderstanding . The library had decided to start handing out the glasses at 9 am and they were now long gone. Those bastards.
At that point I wanted to just go home rather than be tempted and blinded by the eclipse but my mother had brought a colander and paper for eclipse viewing. I’d also heard that the eclipse could be safely viewed using the selfie mode on your iPhone. We tried viewing the eclipse through my iPhone, my mother’s colander and Gabrielle’s shoe box but were unable to see a thing. I jealously watched the people who had had the foresight or the luck to obtain eclipse glasses. Then I learned that there was a woman who was generous enough to allow strangers to view the eclipse through her glasses. I got in line behind a few children and took my turn.
When I first put on the eclipse glasses I saw nothing but darkness and said so. The generous woman said that I was supposed to just see darkness when looking through the glasses as I was and that I needed to look up at the sky to see anything. When I looked up at the sky I saw the eclipse. A black circle was moving across a white circle . The former was the moon and the latter was the sun but the moon was covering the sun in a way that made the sun look like a crescent moon.
Shortly after I took off the glasses the crowd let out a collective gasp. I thought they were witnessing an amazing sight but it turned out they were just frustrated that a cloud was passing over the sky during peak eclipse viewing time. Shortly after that we headed home. I said to my mom “I’m kind of disappointed in the eclipse but if you expect something to be disappointing and it ends up being disappointing, is it truly a disappointment?” She said that it wasn’t.
My Facebook feed soon filled up with amazing pictures of the eclipse. It also included a picture of 45 staring directly at the eclipse with no glasses. I laughed, not just because it was yet another example of 45’s extreme idiocy but because that morning I’d posted a Facebook status that read:
“It’s well known that no matter how much you warn people that a certain action is stupid and will result in disastrous consequences, a significant number of people will ignore the warning and engage in that action anyway. I predict that today a bunch of people will be blinded by looking at the eclipse with the naked eye. I predict there will be a significant overlap between people who were blinded by the eclipse and people who voted for Trump. Yes, I did just make a status about the eclipse political.”
So, thank you, 45, for proving me right and if I’m fortunate enough to view the solar eclipse in 2024, I hope I’m also fortunate enough to do so without you as my president.