Rick's List - Solar Eclipse Edition

There are certain things in our culture that are accepted as Truly Big Moments to be anticipated by everyone.

1. July 4th fireworks

2. Black Friday shopping fun

3. The Super Bowl

4. That convo with an elderly relative: burial or cremation?

Just kidding about that last one.

Another "no one doesn't like this" occurrence is an eclipse — much like the total solar eclipse taking place Monday. It's the first one in North America in 38 years, and while I don't remember the last one, I do recall as a child when some sort of eclipse happened and my father was terrifically excited. So much so, in fact, that he found some discarded window panes and smoked them through some alchemy I didn't understand — and then my sister and I peered through the smudgy glass and watched the phenomenon in real time!

My father was a very bright man, so I was a bit freaked later to learn that the "smoked glass" method of watching an eclipse isn't remotely safe. It all became more comprehensible after he passed and, going through his papers, I discovered a million dollar insurance policy, taken out two years before the eclipse, that paid off if his children should suddenly go blind. There was a big red X crossed through the policy and, scrawled in Dad's handwriting, were the words, "Well, THAT didn't work!!!"

Not really. But it IS true that he smoked glass and we DID look at the eclipse and I remember it being ghostly but pretty cool — and, yes, we're lucky our eyeballs didn't turn to goop and run down our cheeks like a rich person's house in a California mudslide. By now, of course, there are plenty of officially sanctioned glasses and optical wear to guarantee a fool-proof way to witness Monday's event. To me, feeling — yes — a bit exhilarated that I survived Dad's dangerous experiment, the 100-percent safe viewing glasses take the fun out of it.

Nonetheless, because you can never be too careful, here are some other apocryphal "folk methods" for watching an eclipse you may have heard about. Do NOT try any of these.

1. Coat your entire head in candle wax and, at the precise moment the eclipse starts, set your face on fire.

2. In the 24 hours before the eclipse, prepare your corneas for the experience by jabbing them every few hours with needles or a sharpened pencil.

3. Apply Super Glue to your eyelids and seal them shut. You won't see much of the eclipse, but you won't go blind, either.

4. Watch the eclipse in the middle of your street, loudly singing "Sunshine go away today/don't feel much like dancing!"


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