Tak­ing a slow boat to …

The Compass - - OPINION - Harold N. Wal­ters — Harold Wal­ters lives Hap­pily Ever Af­ter in Dunville, in the only Cana­dian prov­ince with its own time zone. How cool is that? Reach him at gh­wal­ters663@gmail.com

“Harry, my home-bound honey,” said a fa­mil­iar voice from in­side a haystack of shop­ping bags. “I’ve bought you a sur­prise for …” The rustling of Dear­est Duck emerg­ing from in­side the pook smoth­ered the end of the line.

Set­ting aside my mug of Ten­sion Tamer, I cranked my­self up from my Lay-Z-Boy like a bear ven­tur­ing out af­ter a long hi­ber­na­tion and, like that same bear sur­vey­ing dis­tant moun­tain­ous vis­tas, stretched my neck to … well, to see what I could see.

Shed­ding shop­ping bags like tufts of grass, Dear­est Duck walked to­wards me, her arms out­stretched dis­play­ing what ap­peared to be a small, but vividly colourful, sail.

“Don’t you just love it?” said Dear­est Duck.

By the sound of it, the sail was for me, so I eyed it more closely.

The sail was mostly blue, like a Ja­maican sky. The way Dear­est Duck bran­dished it caused the fronds of its painted palm trees to sway as if a gen­tle trade wind tick­led their bel­lies. A patch high on its left-hand side re­sem­bled a kan­ga­roo’s pouch.

“It’ ll look lovely on you,” said Dear­est Duck. Oh my. The sail was an out­ra­geously gaudy shirt.

“It’s for our trip,” said Dear­est Duck.

“Trip?” I croaked as if my vo­cal chords were caught in a winch.

Men­tion­ing the names of neigh­bours I would never again call friends, Dear­est Duck said, “Max and Maxie had to can­cel, so I’ve made all the ar­range­ments to fill their berths on the cruise.” Oh my. “Come try it on,” said Dear­est Duck, flap­ping the shirt as if wav­ing a tore­ador’s cape.

Obe­di­ently, like a bull af­ter the pic­a­dors have placed their lances, I stag­gered off to drape my portly frame with my brand new hol­i­day shirt. Truly. Some of you know — as does Dear­est Duck, but she pays no heed — I hate to travel. Some of you may even re­call the events of my last co­erced trip to for­eign lands. We had so much dif­fi­culty get­ting past Cus­toms back into the Land of the Maple Leaf that I swore I would never again travel out­side the borders of the True North Strong and Free.

De­ter­mined never no more to roam, I even shred­ded my pass­port. I shred­ded my pass­port! “Sure, I don’t have a pass­port,” I re­minded Dear­est Duck, striv­ing for dis­ap­pointed sin­cer­ity. She grinned, not lov­ingly. “Don’t ask how,” she said, “but, yes, you do.”

I was dis­cov­er­ing shad­owy new depths in Dear­est Duck that caused me to fear she’d dab­bled in far murkier wa­ters than I would have sup­posed. Had she sold her soul — or worse, mine — to Beelze­bub to get me on a cruise ship?

Shortly, I stood on dis­play. The shirt’s tail hung down over my arse to the backs of my knees. I felt as if I was rigged out in the col­lapsed folds of a tent, a hu­mon­gous tent of trop­i­cal blue.

“You look lovely,” said Dear­est Duck. I felt other­wise. My trou­bled sense of man­li­ness smol­dered. I re­fused to be a com­plete mil­que­toast. I thought of Wal­ter Mitty but un­like Walt, I brought my fan­tasies to life — kinda.

For sev­eral evenings, while Dear­est Duck rocked and dealt travel brochures onto her lap like play­ing cards, I sat in my Lay-Z-Boy read­ing an old copy of The Po­sei­don Ad­ven­ture I’d found in a box.

“My Duck,” said I. “There are a cou­ple of movies based on this book. Bet they’re on DVD some­where.”

Dear­est Duck glanced at the ti­tle. “Humm,” she said, brows­ing the brochures and point­edly ig­nor­ing me.

Tap­ping the pic­ture of the cap­sized cruise ship on the novel’s cover, I said, “Sure, it’s only a bit over a hun­dred years since the Ti­tanic sank off our coast.” “Humm.” Be­fore I had a chance to men­tion rogue waves, Dear­est Duck forced a brochure be­tween the Po­sei­don’s pages.

“This is the boat we’re go­ing on,” she said, in­di­cat­ing a mon­strous white cruise ship big enough to hold … oh, I don’t know… a cou­ple of thou­sand eas­ily-drowned mor­tals.

“Re­minds me of a bloody big ice­berg,” I said, and huffed.

“Stop pout­ing and knock off your fool­ish­ness,” said Dear­est Duck. “We’re go­ing to have a lovely time.” Life went on apace. Daily, it seemed, Dear­est Duck added to my travel wardrobe. Sev­eral pairs of short pants, gar­ishly match- ing a cou­ple of more shirts sport­ing trop­i­cal themes ap­peared on my side of the closet. San­dals and a floppy hat to pro­tect my naked nog­gin joined the ranks. Swim trunks with ex­tra-long draw strings. Sun­block lotions. Weird rub­ber slip­pers to guard tootsies from st­ingrays — I s’pose — if we went ashore and walked on beaches.

“No, no, no,” I protested each new ad­di­tion.

Dear­est Duck ig­nored me. She re­fused to ac­knowl­edge the book about tidal waves I was read­ing and the books about ship­wrecks piled on an end ta­ble. Life went on an­other pace. And guess what. We’re sail­ing away in the morn­ing.

Thank you for read­ing.

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