Friday, June 24, 2005

The Flamming Canoe

Tuk Tuk - Matt's Car, originally uploaded by sinkblue.

My friend Matt, along with his car Tuk Tuk and the Flamming Canoe, took me to duck-itch White Pine Beach with the intention of swimming across the lake and back. The Flamming Canoe used to be an average canoe born of plexiglass and made from the hands of men. However, after various divine tribulations mysterious to all mankind (due to global amnesia) it's bow has been endowed with the flames of Hell. Thus, it is called The Flamming Canoe. Strapped to the roof of it's sidekick Tuk Tuk, it is prepared for any kind of spontaneous canoe moment to fight justice for all canoe-kind. The Flaming Canoe's weakness, however, is water. Therefore, as Matt and I swam across White Pine Lake, the canoe rested uptop his trusted partner, Tuk Tuk, in the White Pine parking lot.
My weakness is my inability to keep up with my friend Matt. The water, cool and smooth, took us a lingering hour to swim across. Once out, Matt was prepared to swim all the way back as promised. My legs, however, wobbled the same consistency of warm tofu, and my lungs had to heave every breath of fly-friendly air. Then the sun heated our skin - I could smell the candy-banana sunscreen on my shoulders. The better the sun feels, the less inviting the water. Matt eventually surrendered to the sun's warming comfort and accompanied me on the trail back to the beach cluttered with sandpales, toddlers and the smell of barbequed burgers. Listening to AM radio news, Matt then drove me home in Tuk Tuk, and I woke up this morning with every muscle in my body feeling great. I got a bit of a tan too - my skin has gone from white to eggshell!

Wednesday afternoon, in between gluing envelopes, answering phones and talking to my friends online, a tall tired woman with two blond girls approached my desk. Josephine, the louder of the two, bopped her balloon sword repeatedly against her mother's stomach; she eventually had to holler ask Josephine to stop. I whispered to her, "Josephine, my name is Sharon. You're mother would really like it if we could all be a little quieter for a while." Josephine's whole body slowed down and turned to look at the glowing stars in the window as her mother explained that her back was hurting. I began to register her girls in classes and I started talking to the smaller one. "What's your name?" I asked.
"Sophia" she replied.
"Do you know what your name means?" She shooked her head and her curly blond pigtails waved like bluebells caught in an August breeze. "Wisdom." Her blue eyes open wider and her eyebrows tense up; she does not understand. "It means to be really smart - and that means that your mother knew you were really smart all along." To that her confused ruby lips expanded into a jubilant smile, the kind that raises blushed cheekbones and lifts heavy chins.
A few moments later, her mother and I finished registering Josephine and Sofia and we had to say goodbye. I told Josephine how wonderful she was behaving, and I said to all of them that it was really nice to meet them. Their mother asked her children,"What do you say?"
They replied in unison, "Thank you."
But as they were leaving my gray building and out into the honeyed sunlight and sweet air, Sophia piped, "I love you!" Her mother laughed lightly as the glass door closed behind them. Then it was my turn for my blushed cheekbones and heavy chin to grow high. A soft pinkness filled my stomach, then my heart and then my fingertips. Tom Waits' Sight for Sore Eyes plays in my ears. This is one of times I love my job.


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