Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Journey Continues

There are certain advantages to having a literary alter ego, but occasionally there are drawbacks as well. For example, Magda Silhavy went to the beach today and burnt her pallid Alaskan hide to a crisp, which means that this evening, I find it particularly uncomfortable to wear things that chafe against my skin, such as, oh I don't know, clothes.

The sacrifices we make for our art.

Magda - I - and my brother Dumas are once more in Corpus to scatter our late father's ashes in the balmy waters of the bay; leaving them on the baggage carousel in Seattle, we found, was not adequately respectful to the old patriarch's memory. This is a more sobering trip than the last, as we are mourning the loss of our brother Edwin to one of the very whales he loved and worked for all his life. We are once more struck by the differences between Corpus Christi and our own hometown of Barrow, Alaska.

We don't really get wine festivals back home, but attended one in Rockport yesterday. Dumas suggests that perhaps we could start a winery back in Barrow. What could we call it? We're a little stumped, but frankly, in the wake (so to speak) of the current tragedy, we've gone right off whale marketing. Never mind that we have a three-day growing season. I've seen those tiny wine bottles they sell on airplanes; if that doesn't represent a niche we were destined to fill, I'd like to know what does?

During the course of the evening, the emcee began walking around among the tents and tables, greeting guests and asking what their favorite wine of the day was, and where are they from? Naturally, Dumas and I felt that this situation was custom-tailored for us, and began casually placing ourselves in the emcee's path. We're from Barrow, Alaska! Nobody else here is from that far away!

But he evaded us, so many times in fact that we began to suspect he was doing so on purpose, especially when he singled out a guest drinking Coors Light. We left in disgust.

Another thing we don't have in Barrow is cockroaches. But back at the hotel, dozing off the wine, I saw something moving underneath the notepad on the nightstand. I lifted the notepad to see two German cockroaches, engrossed in one another, tail-to-tail. I slammed the notepad back down onto them hard.

If I'm not having a good time, I don't see why anybody else should.

Also on the nightstand is an evaluation card. Outraged, I scrawled "FUCKING COCKROACHES!" in the comments section.

It occurred to me that clarification was needed. "(Seriously, they were having sex)," I wrote underneath, and added after further thought, "(I squooshed them)."

Also unheard of in Barrow are nightclubs such as the one where friendly locals Omar and Garrick took us dancing last night; nor, as I discovered to my dismay today, is the sun nearly as strong back home.

So it's rather ironic that they don't have whale blubber sunburn balm here, where the need for it is so much greater. That will just have to wait until the next chapter, the scattering of our father's ashes, and our eventual return home.

If only Edwin were here to experience it all with us.

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