By Tommy Clarkson from the September 2010 Edition
(Continued from the last issue, the following is the fourth installment of a slightly embellished and bit fictionalized account of an almost real All event!)!)but bowled by non-stop, seemingly ceaseless stream of “upsmanship” with which my effusive seatmate had hence far barraged me, with a rather weak smile during the briefest of pauses, I managed to eke out, “Well, you’re certainly an adept conversationalist.”
Without a break he continued, “Well, speaking multiple languages as I do, I suppose it’s normal. I remember the sense of accomplishment I felt when I taught English to the Chubungi Wahaunihi – an aboriginal band I discovered while trekking the bowels of Borneo. They had no written language, of course, so I had to create and then teach it to them. Interesting project that as they had previously only communicated in whistles, belches and grunts . . . just finished my third novel in their native language, in fact.”
“Makes for interesting reading,” he went on. “For example I said in its preface” – hence commenced a ninety second veritable cacophony of sound (seemingly impossible from but one set of vocal chords) of the strangest eruption of burps, whines, whistles, snarls, shrieks and shrills I’d ever heard emitted.
Following this barrage of sound, without pause, he offhandedly explained, “That’s a brief encapsulation in Chubungi Wahaunihian of how the world was created.” Wordless, as we began to taxi down the strip for take-off, I (and several score of other nearby fellow travelers) melted back into our seats and simply stared in slack jawed wordlessness at him. There plainly was no response to that to which we had just been audibly assaulted! Wide-eyed and more than a little daunted, our heads swiveled back and forth between us all with mutually shared looks ranging from outright trepidation through utter amazement to near abject terror!
As we picked up speed in pursuit of lift off and inescapably trapped between him and the window, the unfathomable oral torrent continued from my immediate right, “But that was mere child’s sport. It actually took me a bit longer to teach the Dali Lama the culturally correct, 276,819, visual, motion communication nuances of the entirety of Polynesian Hula dance story telling. If one were to be candid, the Dali simply has no sense of rhythm. Interestingly however, he seems virtually addicted to and listens endlessly to Mick Jagger on his ipod headset!”
It was all I could do to stammer a stuttered, “I . . . I . . .
didn’t know that.”
Continuing without pause, he leaned toward me and conspiratorially whispered, “Mother Teresa, on the other hand, was actually a pretty groovy chick.” Whenever I was in Calcutta, I’d stop by her place in the evenings.” “She loved shots of pure Mexican Agave Riasella. From where and how she got it heaven only knows!” he chortled at his joke..
“And speaking of dancing,” he nudged my ribs with his elbow, “could she ever disco. She made Travolta look like an absolute disco.” Of course, I never told Pope John the 23rd any of that . . . you know, no “Need to know”! He chuckled and winked again.
At this point, he actually paused in seeming contemplation and remembrance. Thankfully, I had no such time to form a mental picture of the bizarre scenes he’d just painted as this respite of quiet could have been measured in nanoseconds.
He then launched into yet another of his apparent limitless sojourns. “But we were talking about communications not partying weren’t we?” (Now, in retrospect, I remember briefly wondering where the “we” might have possibly ever have been in this mountain of monologue but at the time found pondering of such impossible.)
“The week before last, I told ‘The Big B” – the president ya’ know – that we need to introduce interstellar communication techniques to all American youth in early elementary school. He thought that was a great idea and asked me to create a syllabus for such a program. That’s what I’m working on here.” He patted a laptop, appropriately though improperly, lying on his lap top despite instruction to remove it just before take off by our stewardess. Offhandedly and haughty, he said, “I’d show it to you but it’s a complex system of multi- dimensional algorithms that you couldn’t possibly understand.”
Mid thought he seemed to change gears. “In fact, that all came down, up a Camp David, during a break while “The O-Meister” – as I call him when we’re alone – Hillary and I were mulling over several of our next courses of action in Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, that whole damned Palestinian hub- bub, Indonesia, Venezuela and Kentucky.”
Kentucky? Wisely, I didn’t bite. In a bit of a pique and obviously miffed that I’d not ask for more details he, nonetheless, continued.
“Yes, “Hilly” has her challenges. Of course she always has had them being married to that skirt hound Bill. But ever since her law school days, she’s called me regularly for advice.” Like a machine pistol the words sprayed the air, “Why, if she’d listened to me she’d be the one sitting in the Oval Office. But I figure let bygones be bygones. ‘The O- Meister’ heeded my counsel and see where he went from Illinois nowhere. She’s apologized many times and, you can bet, won’t make that mistake twice.”
He then literally puffed up and finalized the thought with, “If only they’d all listen to me more we wouldn’t be in the mess we are today around the world. Of course I could have had Hilly’s job at State but I like this being the power behind the scenes. I can be like the Puppet Master as I am. I can do more this way.” Numb to it all, I could not respond.
Finally, we became airborne. I glanced at my watch. It had been not quite fifteen minutes since my seatmate had joined me. It seemed weeks ago. A flight of seven hours and thirty-five minutes lay ahead . . . it would be a very, very long one!
Tommy Clarkson is a bit of a renaissance man. He’s lived and worked in locales as disparate as the 1.2 square mile island of Kwajalein to war-torn Iraq, from aboard he and Patty’s boat berthed out of Sea Bright, NJ to Thailand, Germany, Hawaii and Viet Nam; He’s taught classes and courses on creative writing and mass communications from the elementary grades to graduate level; He’s spoken to a wide array of meetings, conferences and assemblages on topics as varied as Buddhism, strategic marketing and tropical plants; In the latter category he and Patty’s recently book, “The Civilized Jungle” – written for the lay gardener – has been heralded as “the best tropical plant book in the last ten years”; And, according to Trip Advisor, their spectacular tropical creation - Ola Brisa Gardens – is the “Number One Tour destination in Manzanillo”.