A Maine Regatta Like No Other
There’s only one event that I know of — besides the flow of drugs from Floyd to The Village and the flow of cash from The Village to Floyd — that involves both halves of the island. The event is officially known as the Grand Seal Island Annual Inland Regatta, but because it’s held each year on a tiny stream called Minot’s Trickle, and because the name “Minot’s Trickle” sounds enough like “Minnow’s Tinkle” to make the stoned Villagers snicker, everyone pretty much calls it “Minnow’s Tinkle,” or “The Tinkle,” or often just “The Tink.”
Minot’s Trickle is actually not so much a stream as a moist patch that twists along the center of the island like the trail of an incontinent snake. But the near-total absence of water doesn’t hinder the brave sailors from The Village. In fact, The Tink is one of the biggest events of the year on GSI.
The entries in The Tink look like rowboats, except that they lack the bottom part of the hull that so many seafarers find useful. Instead, the two-person crews of the Tinkboats climb into their crafts, lift them up to butt level, and then run along the Minot Trickle course. The total distance is about five hundred yards, which is actually a long way for pot-smoking, beer drinking Villagers to carry a boat while sprinting at top speed.
And for clarification: The Villagers smoke pot and drink beer while they’re carrying the boats. The entire regatta is a spectacular exercise in excess.
The event was held yesterday. The air was clear and cool, and the contestants showed up promptly after breakfast, which made it about three-thirty in the afternoon. Almost everyone from The Village participated in the race, and almost everyone from The Town showed up to watch. The whole thing had the air of Romans packing the Coliseum so they could watch gladiators get naked and drink hard liquor straight out of bottles.
Each boat had a theme. For example:
• The Cyclops. Bo’s boat was painted brown and had vines and strips of camouflage fabric hanging all over it. Bo, wearing nothing but a loincloth — his dark-brown skin oiled and shining — had a huge single eyeball glued to his forehead.
• The Valkeries. Maple was dressed up as a Viking woman from the opera, with horns on her helmet and blonde pigtails. She was with another, equally red-faced woman — I think her name is Willow — who wore an identical costume.
• The Mermaid. Eliza and some Village guy I’ve seen around had their own entry. The boat was painted azure blue, and Eliza wore a short skirt of turquoise sequins that suggested a mermaid’s tail. She wore nothing above her waist, which suggested that the large audience wasn’t entirely due to the thrill of competition.
• The Jolly Roger. Two guys with eye patches and stuffed parrots, carrying an all-black boat with a pirate’s flag.
• The Purple Haze. Summer and the Wiry Guy, dressed in bell-bottom jeans, tie-dyed T-shirts, sandals, and blue John Lennon glasses. Their boat was a swirl of psychedelic colors augmented with day-glo peace signs.
• The Accountants. Mitch and another guy were dressed in grey slacks, shiny black shoes, white shirts, narrow grey neckties, and black-framed glasses. They had combed their hair and gelled it flat, and they had calculators in their shirt pockets.
There were others, too: the Werewolf, the Abominable Snowman, the BellyDancers, the Homicidal Smurf, the Cockroach, the Floating Nun, and more. By four o’clock or so, the grassy hill that served as the starting area was covered with bizarre Village People sporting bizarre costumes and leering about with bizarre grins. The Townsfolk were seated on folding chairs along the length of the Tinkle, sipping rum drinks from highball glasses and gossiping vigorously about the scandalous behavior of the Villagers.
And the gossip might have been deserved. Every single Villager showed up seriously stoned, some to the point where lifting the boat was as much a feat of coordination as of strength. Most of the sailors were bloated with beer and unburdened from the constraints of much clothing, which worked better for some than for others. Every now and then, a pair of smirking Villagerati would dash off behind some bushes for a quick round of grope and giggle. A fleet of guitars and bongos crashed in drunken syncopation, with lyrics that were heavily altered or forgotten altogether in the spirit of the festivities. I bummed a beer off the Werewolf crew and sat down with Henry, Cory, and Meg to watch the race.
Because everyone from The Village was involved with the boats or the music, the Mistress of Ceremonies was Suzette Houlton, the GSI Economic Development Officer lauded for her commitment to the cause. She was dressed in a hot pink muumuu, and her lips were painted to match. She drank from a cobalt-blue bottle filled with something caustic, and she laughed loudly every time she looked at anyone. Even Henry.
When all the contestants were ready and most were upright and facing in the same direction, Suzette drained the last of the elixir from her cobalt-blue bottle, counted to three (taking obvious pleasure in her ability to get the order right in her condition), and smashed the bottle across the bow of the Jolly Roger. The impact signaled the start of the race for everyone except the Jolly Roger pirates, who fell backward from the blow and apparently thought the whole thing too funny to get up and start running.
But otherwise, they were off. In a flurry of whoops and shrieks and chugs and grins and moons and gestures both obscene and inviting, the mob of Tinkle sailors lunged and careened along the snake-pee trail. The challenge of the race stems from attrition more than speed; almost instantly Gilligan collided with Manhattan Project and Satan’s Little Helper, leaving the boats splintered and the participants rolling on the ground in hysterics. Accountants was singled out for scuttling by the Vikings of Valkerie, who seemed to object to the calculators and the shiny shoes. The Valkeries produced a grappling hook from their bow, snared the offending ship, and reduced it to pencil-sized shards. The Accountants made some swift calculations and pointed out that the Vikings now owed them forty-two dollars and eighty-seven cents.
Taking the early lead was the Cyclops, powered by Bo. On his shoulders, without even touching the ground, was Celia the Ice Maiden, who actually managed to break into a smile as she bounced along the course with Bo’s powerful neck between her thighs.
Gravity was the primary obstacle in the course, and most of the boats succumbed to its sober pull as the sailors sprinted along while receiving inebriated reports from their inner ears. In general, the entire event looked like an excuse for the conversion of lumber into kindling.
Along the course, the Townspeople watched with amusement, pointing to the bobbing breasts and flexing buttocks as though the occupants would be shocked to discover their own nudity. The way the highballs were tilting, I’d say the Townsfolk also took advantage of the lowered social standards to tank up a bit themselves, free from the usually staid atmosphere of the town of Grand Seal Island. Henry seemed philosophically bemused by the whole event, although I did notice that his eyes followed Mermaid’s bow more than was strictly necessary. Meg seemed to think it was all a fun exercise in silliness, which I took to be a good sign.
In the end, Cyclops was the wire-to-wire winner, and Bo and Celia celebrated their victory with a robust and investigative kiss. Eliza, in Mermaid, threw her arms around the guy she was with just for the hell of it.
— Donovan Graham, “The Shadowless Writer”
Comment — SunTanDude: Awesome, man! But I was rooting for Purple Haze, if you know what I mean.
Comment — BinoMan211: Where did you say this island is? I have GOT to see this race the next time it happens.
Comment — Amber4295: I just love those little sequins skirts. I have one in purple and another in pink.
Comment — Edith5545: This island sounds awfully wild to me.
Comment — BobbyBoy886314: Man, you have a great job.
Comment — PriscillaW863: I think this whole thing is scandalous and should be stopped. What kind of society allows this sort of behavior?
Read previous blog entries in the Island Wars story by clicking here.