You know, once I get the little narrator in my head up and running, it’s hard to turn him off. It feels like everything I see, feel or hear gets shunted off to him, and I can hear him spewing out running commentary, like the sports announcer at a football game. He’s got a little notepad, and when he latches on to a particularly nice turn of a phrase to evoke that pothole we’ve just gone over, or the lady balancing a canoe’s worth of planking on her head, he scribbles it down. At night, when it’s quiet, when he’s slumped forward, snoring at his little desk in my temporal lobe, I try to peek at that notebook. I try, if I’ve got the energy, I try to sneak up yank it out from under his folded arms – a quick yank, like the old-fashioned trick of pulling the tablecloth off while leaving the plates and silverware in place.
I wipe the drool off (the little narrator in my head apparently sleeps open-mouthed), smooth the pages, and flip through the pages to see if there’s anything I can use, anything I can string together for a story. I try it out, put in some filler and see if I think it’ll play in Peoria, or Palo Alto. Usually I leave it in draft form to reconsider the words in morning’s light, but, once I’m satisfied with my haul, I gently lift the little guy’s head up to slide the notebook back in place, and let him slumber on. Sometimes, if I’m feeling particularly guilty for cribbing, I’ll dig up a flannel something to drape over him to tuck him in for the night. I know he’ll be up and running early.
But the last couple of days? I think the little guy called in sick. I was up at Ashesi University, meeting with faculty and some of the most amazing undergrads I’ve met anywhere on the planet. I was bouncing around Accra, having dinner with old friends from my Google.org days and you know? It was like watching a game with the sound turned off. I kept waiting for that Howard Cosell in my mind to chime in about the way the demure sophomore in the front row politely dismantled one of the central points of my talk. Kept waiting for him to reflect poetically on the yet-another-flat-tire on the way back from Berekuso. Kept listening for a peep of any kind while Janet, Gottfried, Benjamin, Diana, Louis-Mark, Pedel, the inimitable Daisy and I reminisced about the crazy Google.org times around the table over dinner last night.
Anything? Nothing. The poor guy’s obviously wiped. Well, I’ll give him his rest. If all goes well (hah!), In a few hours I’ll be plugged into seat 38A of British Airways Flight 78, enroute to London and thence San Francisco. Some 21 hours later I’ll be home, having watched as many bad movies as I can keep my eyes open for. It’s been a rewarding and eventful trip, but as far as stories go? I think I’m just as done as the little guy in my head.