Shal­low mal­low

Wangaratta Chronicle - North East Regional Extra - - Regional Extra - BY CATHER­INE WARNOCK

AT the mo­ment I’m won­der­ing if I’m ei­ther way shal­lower than I ever imag­ined or per­haps I re­ally am just dis­re­spect­ful. I’m hop­ing for nei­ther, but let’s see. I’m sure you’re won­der­ing what hap­pened for me to draw such an in­de­ci­sive con­clu­sion (if that’s not an oxy­moron).

Well, you see, a while back, while sit­ting around with a few oth­ers, some­one com­mented on the sad news of the day; that Nel­son Man­dela had passed away. “Oh, yes,” we all nod­ded in rev­er­ent tones. Such a sad day for the world. What an amaz­ing and in­spi­ra­tional man he had been, we agreed.

We all looked ap­pro­pri­ately som­bre as each of us, no doubt, con­sid­ered our world with­out such in­cred­i­ble peo­ple as Mr Man­dela.

But then, in the mid­dle of our reverie, some­one piped up with this:

“Oh, and did you hear the guy from Gil­li­gan’s Is­land also passed away to­day too?”

A hor­ri­fied col­lec­tive gasp erupted around the room.

“Oh, my God. Not Gil­li­gan. That’s so sad.” we blurted si­mul­ta­ne­ously, hands clutch­ing an­guished lit­tle faces. “Oh, that’s just hor­ri­ble!” some­one said. “Poor Gil­li­gan,” said some­one else, “…or who­ever it was… do we know ex­actly which guy it was?

“Was it Bob what­shis­name? Or the other one…. you know… the Skip­per guy? Aww. Soooo sad.”

“I hope it’s not poor Gil­li­gan,” I wailed. “I just loved him.”

With that, a few of us launched with gusto into a rous­ing ren­di­tion of the Gil­li­gan’s Is­land theme song.

Much to the sur­prise of some of the on­look­ers, we knew it word for word and even did some comedic ac­tions.

Af­ter­wards we smiled with sat­is­fac­tion at the fine trib­ute we’d just paid to a won­der­ful man. But which won­der­ful man did we honor? Was it Nel­son Man­dela, a real live, out­stand­ing world icon; an ad­mired leader and ad­vo­cate for equal­ity and peace?

No, it was Gil­li­gan; that fic­ti­tious doo­fus who good-na­turedly en­dured years of bul­ly­ing by the screech­ing, cam­era-hog­ging, hat-slap­ping Skip­per.

And all on a re­mark­ably re­source-laden un­charted desert is­land, com­plete with a movie star’s full wardrobe and a pro­fes­sor with enough know-how to build just about any de­vice known to man…. ex­cept, oddly enough, a boat.

The ridicu­lous na­ture of what had just hap­pened dawned on us and we be­gan to gig­gle.

Even though the loss of any per­son’s life (in­clud­ing a poor man from a TV show) is in­deed, sad, we felt slightly ashamed that per­haps we’d been a lit­tle more overtly up­set by the demise of Gil­li­gan.

My only de­fence is that we were swept away in a nos­tal­gic mo­ment and that per­haps Nel­son Man­dela’s pass­ing was less of a sur­prise, given his age and poor state of health in re­cent months. That’s it. I’ve got noth­ing else.

As it hap­pened, later in the day, a friend and I vis­ited Google to ver­ify which of Gil­li­gan’s Is­land cast mem­bers had ac­tu­ally died and dis­cov­ered there seemed to be no such news on that day and that, in fact, Bob Den­ver (aka Gil­li­gan) had ac­tu­ally died eight years ago.

“Awww. Poor Gil­li­gan,” we re­it­er­ated but, the news now be­ing eight years old, def­i­nitely took the edge off our sor­row.

“And rest in peace, Nel­son,” we added, ac­knowl­edg­ing the true tragedy of the day.

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