Pine Nuts: Solitude, like all else, in moderation |

Pine Nuts: Solitude, like all else, in moderation

Solitude is an essential component to good health and well-being, so they say, but too much solitude, let me tell you, can be burdensome. I cite solitary confinement as the cruelest of punishments. Washing ashore onto a deserted Island is considered by most to be an unfortunate turn of fate.

But pandemic solitude has its own unique personality.

I used to adore my solitude and I would put it to work and to good use, but after five months of pandemic solitude I find myself emulating one of Turgenev’s Russian characters who looks out the south window to keep moss from growing on his face.

I used to hang-up on robocallers; now I talk to them until they hang-up on me, then I call them back. “Yeah, about that investment in an acre of land on Mars you were telling me about, can you tell me a little more about the location and if it is suitable for growing potatoes? And by the way, will I have any neighbors? Hello! Hello!”

I used to hang-up on robocallers; now I talk to them until they hang-up on me, then I call them back.

Just yesterday I got a call from a telemarketing campaign volunteer who wanted to tell me about her candidate who happened to be running for office. I was never so happy. I welcomed her by thanking her profusely for her call before she even had a chance to begin …

“Oh, thank you, thank you for your call! I want to know all about your candidate, that candidate’s family history, education, favorite movie, pets, petty vices, please, tell me everything…hello? Hello!” She hung-up. So I called her back …

“Sorry, we got disconnected, now, you were about to tell me about your candidate, but before you begin, I must share with you my opinion of politicians in general. As Joseph Schumpeter reminds us, ‘Politicians are like bad horsemen who are so preoccupied with staying in the saddle that they can’t bother about where they’re going.’ Now I’m a pretty good swimmer myself, but this circling the drain is wearing me out. So if your candidate is going to put lipstick on a hog, or let the mean dog off the porch, or sway from the unvarnished truth, well you might want to keep that candidate’s name a deep, dark secret. You take Captain Tom Ballou, the most immortal liar that ever I struck. He couldn’t ever seem to tell the truth, in any kind of weather. Why, he would make you fairly shudder. He was the most scandalous liar! I left him, finally; I couldn’t stand it. The proverb says, ‘like master, like man;’ and if you stay with that kind of a man, you’ll come under suspicion by and by, just as sure as you live … hello? Hello!”

I can’t seem to keep a telemarketer on the phone with me these days, even when I invoke Mark Twain. I guess I’ll join the French Foreign Legion … if they’ll have me.

Stay careful and play safe…

Learn more about McAvoy Layne at

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