City Paper is not for tourists
Editor’s Note: Earlier this year, Justin wrote Iceland, a blog about his band’s American tour. Justin isn’t on tour anymore, but Iceland continues, twice a week, on City Desk.
“My father was English,” said the gentleman at the barbecue. “When he was 15, he went to war. World War II. He joined the English merchant marine. The merchant marine sailed back and forth across the Atlantic, dodging German U-boats. The merchant marine traveled in large convoys. If your boat got torpedoed, no one in the convoy was allowed to stop and help you. They had to keep going—-the convoy was carrying supplies for the front. So, each morning, everyone would share binoculars, looking at over the ocean at the other boats in the convoy, to figure out who had been torpedoed during the night, and who was still alive.”
“Your story interests me,” I remarked. “I recently saw Das Boot.”
“My father got a tattoo the day he went to war,” the gentleman continued. “The tattoo was a dove holding an olive branch.”
“Ah!” I exclaimed. “Poignant/ironic symbolism, as the dove/olive branch is a popular sign of peace.”
“Correct,” the man replied. “But my father’s tattoo was faded and old—-so faded and so old, in fact, that I never knew what the tattoo was until he explained his body art to me on his deathbed.”
“A moving anecdote,” I observed. “Did you ever consider being tattooed with this same ornithological symbol in tribute to your deceased father?”
“Yes,” the gentleman admitted. “But, for some reason, I have not taken this step. My parents have shaped me in other ways, though. For example, my mother was not a very stable woman. Growing up, I often felt the need to isolate myself from my mother. I cherished private space—-locked doors, small rooms, et cetera. Thus, when it became time for me to become a homeowner, I purchased a small condominium instead of a sprawling manse replete with housemates. Presently, I live in this condominium with three dogs.”
“Fascinating,” I commented. “A Freudian-cum-veterinary philosophy of real estate.” Pleased with my witty remark, I abandoned the gentleman to his thoughts and walked across the back yard to a shady place where a hammock had been hung. I laid in this hammock in the dark and listened to the sounds of the bustling barbecue. I estimated that I had not lain in a hammock in 15 years.
I tried to doze in the hammock but could not. Lifting my head, I spied a Hula hoop resting on the lawn. I leapt from the hammock, seized this Hula hoop, held it to my hips, and swung my hips in tight circles. The Hula hoop responded, dancing lazy orbits around my body. Interesting, I thought. The more one moves one’s hips—-that is, the more effort one exerts—-the less the Hula hoop will swing.