By Tommy Clarkson from the November 2010 Edition
(Continued from the last issue, the following is the sixth installment of a slightly embellished and bit fictionalized account of an almost real event!)!)
. . . you know the sort, it may be a brother-in- law, next door neighbor or that particularly irritating high school bully badly who has gone badly to seed. Recently while flying home, trapped at an altitude of 39,000 feet, one such person sat next to me. The following is a continuation of this experience.
Hoping to steer our (rather one -sided) conversation to more equitable grounds I said that I’d brought aboard a nice sized submarine sandwich and, should he get hungry, he was welcome to part of it.
With a disdainful “harumpf”, my seatmate responded, “Never touch wheat flour products. I prefer the ‘Grain of the Gods’, the staple in the pre -Columbian Aztecs’ diets – amaranth. I grow my own, of course. Well, rather, my man Raul Suarez hand tills, plants, irrigates and harvests the amaranth grain from my rather remote, 100 hectare Mexican mountain fields. His wife Juanita grinds them in juatimata and then stores them in bags woven from hemp we also grow there.
With somewhat of an inferred self -deprecating guffaw, he continued, “Whereas the Aztec women made a mixture of ground amaranth, honey or human blood and fashioned the mixture into idols that were eaten as part of a ritualistic ceremony, I merely prepare my own haute cuisine with it.” He added, as if by afterthought, “I’m, of course, a visiting culinary professor at the Sorbonne in Paris.”
In virtually the same breath he continued, “But speaking of submarines, did I tell you of the time I commanded a Russian Akula Class nuclear sub, on an under the Arctic polar icecap mission?” But before I could respond he went on. “Yes, when my seven foot tall step brother Sergey Egorov (I quietly observed that, large egos must run in the family) who normally Captained the boat came down with a bad bout of Dengue fever they ask me if I’d mind taking the con for him.”
On it went. “Indeed, after some eight months of being submerged, we surfaced 450 kilometers from the north pole. I went topside and, observing a pair of polar bears, went onto the ice floe to study them. The Ursus is, I’m sure you know, the world’s largest land maritimus carnivore. And, while extremely ferocious to most of the human species, I telepathically communicated with them and we spent a most enjoyable couple of hours frolicking together before – ya’ know – duty called.” He paused, in apparent fond reflection of the purported event. . . . but I caught him sneak a peek at me out of the corner of his eye as if to gauge my state of belief.
With my best poker face I strenuously strove to suppress my face from showing any manner of my thoughts.
He must have taken my silence as supportive endorsement in that he went on, “but that was nothing compared to the month I lived with a Sasquatch family in the Pacific Northwest. The dominant male – I called him Bertram – was much as you have heard. He was large, dark reddish hair, somewhat ape-like, around 9 ½ feet tall and weighed well in excess of 500 pounds and thoroughly loved to arm wrestle with me . . . . which was pretty much an even draw between us as I recall.”
I looked at him to see if there was any sense of jocularity in this story, but his manner of pompous pontification indicated no. He continued, “He had wonderful large, expressive eyes below a somewhat pronounced brow ridge and a large, low -set forehead; with the top of the head rather rounded and crested like the sagittal crest of a male gorilla. He did not, as I have often heard claimed, exude any strong, unpleasant smell. To me his musk was more that of a combination of wild bayberries, sautéed Chanterelle Mushrooms, and Old Spice After Shave.
Noncommittally, I responded, “Interesting.”
“Of course,” he answered, “but let me tell you about my little girl, Lionora. She’s my pet Liger – a cross between a male lion and a female tiger, weighs a little under 2,000 pounds and is over 10 feet in length. As docile as your grandmother’s kitty she sleeps in my bed but is a bit of a hog of it as she snug-cuddles next to me.”
Once again, I was speechless.
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”.