Monday, August 19, 2013

At Sea

16th August 2013

A short blog today because I am anchored off the shores of Belize on a cruise ship.
It feels as though every Texan that ever lived is here with me, asking if "Ya' all," have had enough soda to last a lifetime. There's even a payment plan on board by which you can have access to unlimited soda. There are people whose body fat index must be off the charts waddling towards soda machines from break of day. You couldn't pay me to drink a glass of soda, but my scorn for the overeaters fell aside when I started compulsive eating myself, pretty much the minute I climbed on board. It is a sorry sight, we citizens of the free world face down in a tray of cakes, and I can feel the slim waiters from Buenos Aires and El Salvador rolling their eyes when no one is looking.  I usually eat next to nothing for breakfast, but aboard a cruise ship you have to dig me out from beneath piles of pancakes and muffins.
All of this has nothing to do with writing or publishing. In fact, it is probably about as diametrically opposed as it gets. Writer Sherwood Anderson found that out the hard way when he boarded a cruise headed through the Panama Canal. The author was a hardened Martini drinker, and following cruise ethic that more is decidedly better, he had downed a few drinks before he swallowed the olive in his Martini whole. This would not normally have caused any upset, but this olive was attached to a cocktail stick. How many Martinis you would have to down before a cocktail stick slipped down your gullet unnoticed is anybody's guess. So the cruise proceeded with its limitless supply of fodder (and soda, no doubt) when Sherwood began to experience bad stomach pains. By the time the ship docked, the poor man was dead from peritonitis. It appears the cocktail stick had punctured his bowel. The inscription on his tomb reads, "Life not death is the great adventure." He got that much right. Sailing on the blue Caribbean has far more appeal than waving through the mists over the River Styx. LIfe is much more than books, to - - against the prospect of swimming with dolphins, the entire canon of literature falls on its face. Stories are never any substitute for living.
The second installment of my book advance should have gone to pay the taxman, but we are human after all and could be dead tomorrow with a cocktail stick lodged in our lower intestine. So, better to be a fat waddling piece of humanity, looking up long enough from a glass of soda to gaze on the blue horizon.

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