Friday, August 2, 2013

Floes the Ice

His wife was always right. No really, she was.

It was indisputable as she had warned for years that global warming would soon make the earth uninhabitable. And yes, something had to be done about the trafficking in rhino tusks, drugs, illegals, and children. The clubbing of seals—now that was a real disgrace. And using a cell phone in the car was a dangerous practice. Her list of causes was legendary.

Al respected the persistence with which she marched in parades, wrote letters to newspapers, signed petitions. Indefatigable—although he’d never said the world aloud—described her. She was an exemplary citizen. Really, she was.

And on a micro level, she always knew best in their personal life too.  Derek, for instance, was initially under-placed in his algebra class. Cheryl should be encouraged to play tuba in the school band even if her talent was negligible. The French teacher, once nudged, recommended Cecile for a summer camp in Bordeaux. A grade of C in Chemistry would hurt Jesse’s chances of getting into a top-notch college. Wasn’t there some way he could raise his grade?

Framed letters and certificates from various entities papered their walls. Plasticized copies of op-ed pieces she’d written—sincere but not scolding—hung there too.

There were a few exceptions to her perpetual state of grace however. Their yard was peppered with animal deterrents if not outright poison.

“Do you want to go to jail?” he asked, putting a powdery finger to his tongue.

“Private property is a God-given right. Sometimes the greater good trumps the lesser one.”

She sent the terrier’s owner an anonymous letter—a tactic soon embraced whole-heartedly. An unsigned letter reminded the Wilkinsons that loud music would not be tolerated; the Plummers got a note about their failure to put their recycling bin away; the Bianchinis got a whispery call about the state of their lawn.

“Let’s take a vacation,” Al suggested one day. “The kids are at camp—we owe it to ourselves.”

“Well, I don’t know,” she demurred.

“How about Alaska?” he said, waving a brochure. “Glacier Gliders specializes in those little ships you’ve always talked about. The ones that take you inside the nooks and crannies the big ships can’t manage. Listen to what is says: “our captain may follow a pod of whales, pull up so close to a glacier you could touch it, drift next to a waterfall or even anchor off a remote cove close enough for you to take the gangway ashore.”

“It does sound thrilling.”

Al and his wife found themselves on a Gliders ship a few weeks later. His wife spent most of her time fretting about the state of the glaciers, the hunting of wildlife, the devastation of the environment. But Al had expected that and bit his tongue as she lectured the glum passengers about these travesties.

‘Let’s go on deck after dark and see how the glaciers look with no lights to distract us,” he suggested their third night out. The night was particularly dark, and it took some persuasion to get her on deck. It was nearly three a.m. when they stood by the rail.

“Look how close we are, darling. See what I mean,” he said, pointing to an ice floe. “We’re practically on top of it.

‘It pains me to know that was once part of a huge glacier,” she said. “I bet it would break up completely with the weight of a human on it.”

As the ship drew closer, the sound of the engine shifting gears drowned out her next words. Al put a firm hand on her back and pushed hard. He’d hoped she’d land on the ice floe so she could test her theory of further breakage, but instead she sank like a boulder in the icy waters. The splash took the ice floe down in the manner she would have predicted though.

His wife was always right. Really, she was.