Friday, July 16, 2004

jet jet lag lag lag time

Last month I travelled to Australia, where I experienced local dialects, tropical latitudes, and the most boring man in the world (have I told you about the most boring man in the world? He was sitting outside a cafe in Kiribili, expounding on the flavour of crocodile,* the size of his brother-in-law's property holdings in the Northern Territories,** the most popular sport in Australia,*** the number of those little jetties you see in the harbours****), after which I was sent to Rapid City for a week, then returned for a couple of weeks to recuperate for my Floridan 'n' Texan extravaganza. Today, as I stood in a graveyard halfway between New London and Henderson, having my feet bitten to welts by red ants, I found out that my next trip will be - Australia! I thought one month ago  that my Australia trip was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Turns out it's... twice. In a lifetime.
 
I've discovered the joys of long conversations with East Texans. Today I interviewed a woman named Millie Guest, a local historian***** in the town of New London. We talked about the history of the town and the story of the high school that blew up there in 1937, the result of a meeting between a belt sander and a natural gas leak. Four hundred people had died in what was one of the greatest disasters in American history. Millie employed a dada grammar which I attempted to transcribe, but it was just too strange, riddled with random prepositions and revolutionary zeugma. She told me that at the moment of the explosion, the school basement was so full of natural gas that it had "the strength of two or three bombs". Usually when people make such statements, I want to ask, "Bombs of what strength?" but in this situation I was afraid of the answer. She also told me that there was an "all-boom" in the 1930s and that as a consequence the town was full of "all-whales".  When I asked her what it was like to find out that she had lost a best friend in the explosion, she told me that it was like finding out that she didn't have that best friend anymore. Then she showed me the telegraph of condolences that Adolph Hitler had sent. I asked her what it said about the explosion that people like Roosevelt and Hitler had sent their sympathies. She said it showed that world leaders had hearts like everybody else. This went on for two hours.
 
*"Rather like a nice fillet with a distinctive maritime flavour, really a good feed, you know".
 
**"Oh, it must be a million acres, really quite large".
 
***"Sport fishing, you see, really quite the most popular sport in Australia".
 
****"Oh, there must be a hundred thousand of those little things, all of them there for the purpose of sport fishing. Really, I must say that crocodile is a good feed".
 
*****Local historians are invariably obsessive retirees who divert their declining energies into the creation of a museum.

1 comment:

Friday said...

You know, I bet Hitler wished that he'd thought of that himself. Being the good-hearted man that he was.