Good Thing I Wasn’t Drinking

A friend and I went to a burger joint today, precisely because they didn’t serve booze. Neither of us were up for college kids celebrating Irish culture by binge drinking. Sadly, lunch was a doomed idea no matter the location.

The first sign of weirdness was when I walked up to the counter.

Clerk: What’s your name?

Me: Sean.

Clerk: Chuck?

Me: …okay, sure.

I placed my order, which included a chocolate malt, and — after a quick trip to the soda trip to spill root beer all over my hand — I sat with my friend to chat. He got his food, and I got Chuck’s, and we talked for a while over sliders and fries.

Eventually I posed the question “When should I ask what happened to my malt?” He was amazed I hadn’t already, so I took my receipt up to the counter and asked how my malt was coming along. The clerk fell over himself apologizing and produced it from a fridge behind the counter. The was a rather involved story about how it had gotten mixed up with an order for delivery, but I really didn’t care because I was happy that my malt had been there for the asking. The clerk said he’d make another for to make up for the mistake, and I told him there wasn’t any need. As far as I was concerned, everything was copacetic.

Then I sat down and promptly dropped the damn thing on the floor.

“I will make you a new one now,” the clerk said as I wiped up malt from the floor.

I accepted his offer of a fresh malt. It tasted of shame and chocolate.

Drama Came to Eden

Last weekend we caught a fascinating documentary on Netflix. Called “The Galapagos Affair: Satan Came to Eden” (in part after the first book by a survivor), it told the bizarre tale of three groups of German settlers on the island of Floreana in the 1930s.

First was a philosopher (who’d left behind his wife) and his patient/protegé (who’d left behind her husband). They’d come in search of a simple and peaceful life that would allow for thinking the deep thoughts. Mostly what they found was how much work the simple life takes and how little time it leaves for navel-gazing.

Next came a couple with a young child and another on the way. They’d come prepared for everything, except they hadn’t anticipated how little the philosophers wanted company. They were escorted to the opposite side of the island on the pretext that the pirate caves would be a good starter home.

Lastly, and most oddly, came a fake baroness and her two lovers. They settled in next to the growing family and proceeded to aggravate everyone with their airs and flamboyance.

It was a recipe for disaster, and the miracle is that the second group escaped the ensuing tragedies relatively unscathed. In short order, the not-baroness and her favorite had gone missing. Her second fella, generally suspected of arranging the disappearance, wound up ship-wrecked and dead as a result of his attempt to leave Floreana. The philosopher, a vegetarian, had perished after eating contaminated chicken (for lack of other food), and his protegé returned to Germany to write about how dreadful everyone else had been.

I watched all of this with my jaw in my lap. It just kept getting weirder. For instance, the counterfeit baroness talked a ship’s captain into making a movie of her as the island’s pirate queen. Part of it is shown in the documentary. It’s indescribable.

Watching all of this, hearing excerpts from the very different written accounts, my TV-addled brain kept going back to the castaways on “Gilligan’s Island”. If the professor hadn’t been so handy with coconut technology, they’d have been at each other’s throats.

Ginger would’ve disappeared after making a movie with one of the many people who pass through the island. Gilligan would have been murdered by all of them after the third time he blew an escape attempt. The Howells would have survived by buying a ticket. Skipper would have been lost at sea after fleeing on a raft. The professor himself would have died from drinking tainted coconut milk.

Marianne — she would have left the island with a passing sailor, only to return with him later to run a hotel.