A Fissure Opens Off the Coast of Maine
I went down to The Village yesterday. The weather was still beautiful, and I was anticipating yet another time-wasting date with a silly amount of beer.
I pulled the Island Car to a stop near the south beach, clambered over the boulders with my six-pack in my hand, and found a small and sandy spot to call my own. I took off my T-shirt, made myself comfortable, and opened a beer.
My family had a cat when I was growing up. It was an amazing cat, all sleek and gray. We called her Smoky Jo. She was young and fun and feisty. And smart. If someone in the far corner of the county opened a can of tuna — with an electric opener, a hand-cranked opener, a couple of large rocks, it didn’t matter — she would sense the specific tuna-opening frequencies through her fluffy little toes and bolt like a Tasmanian Devil toward the source. In an instant, the unlucky victim would be left holding an empty and nicely polished can, a spotless can opener, and effectively nothing else. One time, our neighbors were having a picnic, and Mrs. Walsh opened a can of tuna on the picnic table in their back yard. She must have spilled some of the tuna juice on her dress, because the next thing I knew, she was virtually naked, my father was apologizing and giving her money, and I was a little more grown up than I had been.
Beer has the same effect in The Village. With no one around except for me and the sun, I opened a can — and became the most beloved and popular guy in the area. Three people sprang from the rocks like gnomes and greeted me in that cheerful way that really says, “Hey, can I have a beer?” I was glad I had a backup six-pack in my car.
Summer was among the gnomes, and she slipped from the arms of a wiry tattooed guy and into mine. I’m guessing he was out of beer. Summer and I drank warm beer and groped each other for a while — it’s her form of communicating, kind of like a whale song — and then I wandered off down the beach. I was trying to lose my entourage before digging out the other six-pack.
I ran into Bo and Eliza. She was dressed in exceptionally tight denim shorts and a men’s cotton long-sleeve shirt, light blue, with the sleeves rolled up and the tails tied high on her waist. He was dressed in something I didn’t care about.
They smiled when I approached, but it was that kind of tight smile that suggests that I really should get the hell out of there so they can finish whatever intense conversation they were having. I was carrying beer, though, so their conversation was put on hold.
We drank the beer in silence for a while, just listening to the waves pounding the stony beach, the seagulls declaring their freedom overhead with joyous caws, and the boiling of blood in two sets of veins. It was obvious, given the brittle, terse monosyllables between them, that Eliza and Bo were working through some kind of major issue. I sucked on the piss-warm beer, closed my eyes against the warm sun, and did my best to listen in.
“thank,” she said when he passed her a beer.
“yeah,” he responded.
“talklater,” she hissed.
“damnstraight,” he replied.
Nothing. No hint that might reveal the source of their troubles. It was none of my business, of course, except perhaps to the extent that I could use the cause of their tiff to help break them up, making Eliza available for my irresistible charm.
I remember a few of the arguments I had with girlfriends long ago. Once, I got really angry — furious and screaming, flailing my arms and making sputtering noises — with Cindy, my girlfriend at the time. But the reason for my anger was reasonable and fully justifiable: She was really mad at me. It wouldn’t be fair for the fury to fly in only one direction, so I opted for being mad back at her. If I recall correctly, she was angry with me for being too much of a gentleman, too polite, too charming, and too sophisticated. No, wait — now I remember. I had just called her mother some hideous name. I don’t recall the term exactly, although “imbecilic toad-sucker” comes to mind. But I have two strong defenses for my behavior. First, Cindy had just said something unkind about her mother, so I was merely furthering the conversational theme of the evening. And second, her mother really was an imbecilic toad-sucker. So I have the weight of truth on my side.
I think it took Cindy about half an hour to find a new boyfriend, but I showed her. I got myself a new girlfriend, too — just six short months later.
Most of the time, boyfriend/girlfriend spats are just part of the grand relational chess match. Each side is vying for position, trying for the tiniest advantage, content in the knowledge that the preponderance won’t last long and the dynamic equilibrium of love will tip the gods’ favor back into balance soon. Besides, no one likes to play alone. So the tiffs are almost always harmless — right up until you equate her mother with an amphibianophile. Then it’s usually over.
Eventually, I left Eliza and Bo to their clash. Who was I kidding? I knew it would blow over soon, they would have spectacular make-up sex involving the popping of buttons and the slathering of skin, and I’d be lying alone on my bunk in an earwig-infested cabin eating cold baked beans out of a can.
Ah, such is the life of the intrepid journalist. Or at least, such is the life of me.
— Donovan Graham, “The Shadowless Writer”
Comment — BinoMan211; When you get to the button-popping sex, let me know.
Comment — BobbyBoy886314: I’m rooting for you, Van! You’ll win her over soon! I just know it!
Comment — Orson Van Dyke: It is a proven and tested truth that minor arguments can strengthen a relationship by allowing each person to make their feelings and needs clearer to the other. So I’m afraid I must agree with you, Van. Unless this is about something significant, you’re not going to profit from their dispute.
Comment — Gemstone: Van, if you’re alone, it is only by choice.
Read previous blog entries in the Island Wars story by clicking here.