Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Deadliest Hiatus

Maybe you've seen the popular show "The Deadliest Catch." You probably have since it's the only thing on TV. We have 100 channels and nothing but this one show.

As is well known, the various "Deadliest Catch" crews take their boats and weapons out every year, for eight months of the year, and compete to see who can bring in the Great White Whale. It's out there lurking somewhere, and you never know when his spout may appear and his huge, hulking form may capsize one of the boats and devour the crew. He's evil, rotten to his rotten core, a very very bad whale, really a monster.

One day we had the exciting footage of him finally taking the bait. A gigantic hook the size of a couch was tied to an enormous rope as thick as a maple tree, then strung on a huge pulley with a hydraulics system, baited with the shark from Jaws. It was quite tense on the boat, to say the least, as the sea became very calm, as still as death, no breathing, no motion at all. There wasn't a ripple on the water for 4,000 miles. The boat was literally dead in the water. The only movement was by one of the very nervous crew, a single guy sitting over by the door who scratched his nose.

Then suddenly, as if from the depths of hell itself! ... They heard a light tapping at the hull. Just a light tapping. Tap, tap, tap. Charlie the Tuna was just stopping by to say hello. He has good taste, so he loves the show. Then as soon as he'd come, he left. That broke some of the tension and the guys laughed. There was a great sense of relief.

When ... suddenly, again as if from the depths of hell itself! ... They heard what sounded like a sloshing of the water ... What could it be? One of the crew looked overboard and it was the Old Man from "Old Man and the Sea," with a big fish strapped to the side of his boat. Check that, it was by now half fish, half skeleton, and he had a fork and was presently eating. He called up to the captain who sent down a greeting ... and a warning: If you want to live to be an Older Man, you better get a'movin'! So he made quickly for the horizon, with a putt putt motor and a zigzagging path. Again, the tension was relieved, but it would not be for long...

Because suddenly, and for the final time, as if from the depths of hell itself! ... the Great White Whale had taken the bait! They saw him leap into the air in all of his righteous fury. His crashing back to the sea raised a wave so high the guy in the crow's nest was able to grab a handful of sand from the ocean's floor. Up and down, the mighty beast soared and crashed back again. He was the size of the Empire State Building if he was an inch! The boat was a bobber in comparison, the crew like matchstick men.

At this point the show went to a commercial and I lost interest. Billy Mays came on selling some kind of orange scented chamois so I went outside to cut weeds.

But looking back on the show, sometimes that's exactly how I feel about my hiatus. All is calm for a while. A few friends, like Charlie the Tuna and the Old Man and the Sea might show up and say hi. The tension is broken. I'm feeling pretty good about my time off. Then suddenly, as if from the depths of hell itself, I'm carried right into the gaping maw of the Great White Whale, or, worse, the gaping maw of Billy Mays -- such tension -- and I don't know what to do. It threatens my very existence.

So I need to do something, anything, like go outside and cut weeds. It makes me feel useful. One of these days I'm going to find him, the Great White Weed! And when I do, oh! that'll be something!

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