Day 1: It has taken me a while to get my bearings. I spent an unknown amount of time disoriented and unconscious, but I’m more lucid now and more comfortable. This environment is stifling and odorous. The best I can tell, I’m lost in Malcolm Gladwell’s hair.
It was at Rainy Day Books, in Kansas City, that I saw the New Yorker scribe speak and sign copies of his new book, Blink: the Power of Thinking without Thinking. Being a fan of the peculiar, everyday scientific writing of Gladwell, I was excited to get to ask him a question on risk theory and how it shapes modern stockcar racing. His erudite answer and telling anecdote about a conversation he had with Nascar legend Richard Petty made us both look good. I stuck around afterwards with my friend Trish, hoping to meet Gladwell. Eventually the store closed. As I stood to leave, I looked over my right shoulder in time to see a brunet mass approaching. It swallowed everything in its path, blotting out the track lighting. I fainted. When I came to, my limbs were tangled in thickets of long, curly hairs. Eventually, I gained the strength to free my arms and legs. Now I rest up against a sturdy stalk of hair.
Day 2: I can reach my bag and I have some provisions, although half a bottle of Dasani won’t last me long. I’ll have to ration. I twisted my ankle trying to get out of the hair. This makes leaving a bit trickier. Gladwell gave a lecture today on the evolutionary importance of the common greeting. It’s not so bad being stuck next to such a mind.
Day 3: I have had diarrhea all day, which arouses very real fears of dehydration. I reread my unpublished piece on a scientific Atlantis off the coast of El Salvador. When I get out of this hair, I’m going to do more exploring. I smell jerk chicken and shrimp … with fennel.
Day 4: I found a bag of groceries with water and many non-perishables. I feel awful for the old lady holding the bag. She was dying when I found her. Getting caught up in this man’s mane must have been too much for her. I’ve had a few cans of peas. I don’t like iced tea, but I’m drinking it. The only thing I won’t touch is the asparagus.
Day 5: Stronger, but the ankle still needs a little more recuperation time. Plus, I’m almost done with Blink. Think of all the snap decisions I’ve made that have turned out right. Literally a ton.
Day 6: I woke up this morning to see some movement in the hair. Initially, I thought it may be a rescue effort, but it turned out to be the welcome, yet haggard, figure of my high school friend, Steve Ergen, in a torn, sweaty I ♥ Scopes T-shirt. Steve played bass and sang lead vocals in my post-funk ensemble, Brass Tax. I played timbales and directed movement. Steve was at Syracuse University (upstate New York, all right) where Gladwell was speaking on unintended acceleration. He was using the bathroom when Gladwell came in and stood at the urinal right next to him. Now he’s in the hair; small world. Steve is a freelance writer now. He showed me his notes for a piece he’s writing on Gladwell’s new book. I told him it looked very nice. I let him have some broth before turning in for the night. I think I saw a rat today, but it might have been trash.
Day 7: Steve and I struggled to get out of Gladwell’s hair to no avail. My ankle is still sore. I explained to Steve, in lay-terms of course, my independent research into the psychological implications of space on the immigrant experience. Steve spent the afternoon looking for escape routes. I worked on a crossword puzzle and rested the ankle. I definitely saw a rat today.
Day 8: Woke up to find Steve dry-heaving. He said we needed to cremate the old woman’s body. It took more than a few matches and most of Steve’s notebook to get the whole thing burning but it went fast. Steve slept all day, missing Gladwell’s lecture on the fallacy of non-volatility in democracy from Athens to Iraq.
Day 9: Steve’s dead. He wasn’t breathing when I tried to wake him up this morning. I used up the rest of his notebook burning the remains. If I have to start a signal fire, all I have left is Gladwell’s book and a few of my unpublished manuscripts.
Day 10: I’m down to a roll of Necco wafers and a can of Ensure. I’m starting to wonder about Gladwell. When is this man going to wash his hair?
Day 11: Feeling weak and the diarrhea has returned. All a running leap did was re-sprain my ankle. I’m ready to go home. The ground is littered with ashes. It smells of my waste. I’m hungry. I’m bored with speeches about the brain’s unconscious abilities of deduction. I understand Occam’s Razor like never before. What I don’t understand is why Gladwell never washes his hair.
Day 12: I ate a piece of hair today and cried. Gladwell spoke today on key decision-making by figures in the days leading up to the Boxer Rebellion. I wish I was in the Boxer Rebellion, because then I’d punch my way out of here.
Day 13: I’m leaving this diary behind in the off chance that Gladwell ever uses shampoo. If you find these words, please honor a dead man’s wish and get my manuscripts published (no preference where). And tell Malcolm Gladwell he might want to shave his head for sanitary reasons.