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Summer in the country is punctuated by the sound of machines. The thrum of lawnmowers. The buzz of trucks depositing natural gas into basement tanks so that air conditioning units can continue to run. Weird undefined hums that could be the sound of equipment sucking out a septic tank or could be the mating call of some gargantuan Godzilla insect preparing to take out Hyde Park.

I have no real-time social encounters scheduled for the next week. Which is kind of a drag, but also deliberate: I had three social events scheduled last week that I elected not to make appearances at since it was very evident to me that I had been invited to be one of the extras charged with providing background clamor. Free liquor just isn’t worth that.

I’m lonely. I’d like a playmate. I like the people I know in Hyde Park, but except for Ed and Pat, I wouldn’t say that anyone here speaks my language.

When I was younger, I hated those mundane little conversations that most people have: Stop and Shop is having a sale on mangoes! I went to Crave for lunch and I had this fabulous little salad with fresh beets! CVS was out of my thyroid meds, can you imagine?

Now, I sort of enjoy them. I see them as neutral interfaces through which friendly intentions are announced. It’s a type of verbal signaling that substitutes for the fact that humans are uncomfortable sniffing each others’ butts.

But it’s not banter. And it’s not the exchange of ideas. So it’s not play.

Or at least it's not a type of play that captures my imagination.

With all his faults – and their name was legion – Ben was a most excellent playmate. And I miss that.

I can’t imagine a time when I won’t miss that.

And I can’t imagine finding another such playmate.

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Every Day Above Ground

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