December 05, 2004

White Lobster

It’s hard being a cow in a world of cattle. Everywhere signs tell me where to shop and what to watch. I hear commercials in my sleep. My only recourse is static, until NPR turns itself on promptly at 5:30 am and world events and folk music invade my early morning slumber.

On the subway it’s more urban static until a man plays a harmonica and everyone gives him ugly looks, yet no one tells him to stop. A grown man sits obscenely with a little girl on his lap. Her prematurely long legs dangle into my personal space. Noone tells her to move. He eyes me with the eyes of a predator. She looks like she’s drugged. I notice everyone looks drugged. The harmonica man says we are a cattle train and pulls a little riff through his instrument. I take offense until I give him the benefit of the doubt and glumly agree.


This morning, even my chocolate chip muffin is victim to my neighbor’s incessant, continuous whining. Every three seconds my phone rings and I repeat myself, over and over and over.

Poor chocolate chip muffin; I locate its ears and promptly nibble them away.

My cubicle is my thatched hut, even though I know at any moment it can be burned to the ground and my privacy, my solitude can be taken away from me. I have my books arranged and my postcards neatly posted. My deaf, chocolate chip muffin looks at me with sad, Hershey brown eyes.

The little man with the harmonica had buggy eyes. As he played, his eyes bulged from their sockets. I glance at my eyes in the amber window. They are illuminated every three seconds as an orange streak of light flashes outside. I too appear drugged.

I decided to be proactive, or perhaps I was angry. I wanted to say something to the harmonica man, just as I want to say something to my cubicle mate about her whining. Though by saying something am I buying into society’s unspoken quietness rule, or stepping out of the mold and breaking the silence – yet only to, ironically, silence a creative individual? I talked myself out of it and stood in silence until the train stopped and the cattle stampeded off the cramped train. National Public Harmonica playing behind me.

Its 6:00 a.m. and NPR reports of a far away Central American village where men with nets pray for the White Lobster to wash ashore so their peasant families will be rich. The White Lobster is their name for bundles of cocaine which fall off drug boats during covert shipping between South America and Mexico. Every morning the competing village men silently wade into the waters and quietly pray a taped, albino bundle will wash into their nets. It never happens but to find one means you can sell it back to the drug lords, adult men with drugged, little girls. To find it means never again casting a net, riding the subway or answering the phone. All I’d need is a warm hut, a hammock and my muffin.

I turn the radio off and lay in true silence, dreaming of being a rich peasant someday.

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