So you are lying on the couch in the living room with a book and maybe an empty beer can or two — maybe even three. Who’s counting? The book is about a 190-foot, wooden, steam sailer called the Bear and Coast Guard operations in the Alaskan waters in the late-1800s. And while you are amazed that anyone would volunteer to rescue whalers, you read on about endless storms and ice, and gathering a reindeer herd and moving it north cross country to Point Barrow, and all of a sudden you are surprised to hear this:
There is giggling in the room and that person with blues eyes that sparkle and laugh when she is happy (which is most of time) is pointing at you.
“Sweetie, you were snoring.”
“Nope, I was reading about Lt. D.H. Jarvis saving ice-bound whalers.”
This is called Denial.
So you go back to your book and maybe visit the fridge to acquire another Pale Ale from Upslope Brewery (highly recommended).
Lt. Jarvis is now in some hovel with 14 Eskimos waiting out a storm. He’s absolutely driven to get the reindeer to Point Barrow, but the wind is gusting at 50 knots and the temperature is 20 below and even the Eskimos are saying “screw it” when anyone mentions going out.
You think of bone-chilling cold, snow coming at you sideways, wind blasting right off the Bering Sea and Eskimo roommates that have had a bath maybe once in the last year. You reach for your beer and take a pull, maybe two, and go back to the book. And maybe your eyes close for just a moment to imagine the spot that Lt. Jarvis is in.
“Sweetie, you are annoying the dog with your snoring. You should go take a nap.”
“Dammit, I am not snoring. I am reading.”
“The dog thinks you were snoring. I heard you snoring, and you woke yourself up with your snoring.”
“Okay! So my best friend accuses me of snoring. My dog is upset with my snoring. Will everyone just fricking leave me alone? Huh?”
This is called Anger.
“Sweetie, there are four beer cans lined-up along the bottom of the couch.”
“It’s 3 o’clock on a Saturday afternoon and you have done two-thirds of a six pack. Your consumption is bordering on slacker-dude.”
“I deny that.”
“Okay, so everyone in the whole mountain world lies on the couch on a Saturday afternoon, reads a book, drinks four beers, falls asleep and snores, annoying both his best friend and the dog?”
“No, not true, some people have to work on the weekend. Ski Patrol is out on the weekend. Cops are visiting donut shops on the weekend. Hell, librarians sometimes have to work on the weekend if the city has enough money to keep the library open.”
“You know what? You’re a lout.”
“I deny that.”
“I’m going to movie without you.”
“You’re not mad at me are you?”
“No, just disappointed to be living with a lout.”
“Huh, so what movie are you going to?”
“A sci-fi thriller called, ‘Amazons Kicking Lout Ass’.”
“Can I go?”
This is called Bargaining
You didn’t really want to get off the couch and go to an afternoon movie. Blue Eyes knew that. She pulled on her down parka, patted the dog, grabbed the keys and took the truck to the movies without you.
So you go back to the book. But after a while, if you have to read about one more Eskimo village that, in desperation, has to eat their sled dogs, and you think you might just have to toss the book across the room and go watch a basketball game.
So the basketball game is a good idea. It’s your old school, the one it took you seven years to get through, playing against archrivals and they are winning. But then those dirtbags from North Carolina pull even and then surge ahead. Your team folds like a cheap card table. The criminals from North Carolina pour on the points. You wish the coach of your team would just toss a towel onto the floor to end the pain. The score gets more and more lopsided. The play-by-play guys are making fun of your school. All the undergraduates have left the stadium.
This is called Depression
You turn off the tube in disgust and move back toward the book and the couch. But first you grab a blanket off the bed. You pick up the book and assume your position again on the couch, this time under a blanket. After two more Arctic snowstorms, your eyes begin to droop, you yawn several times and the book starts to waver back and forth. You close your eyes, lower the book to your chest and just drift off into this wonderful thing called a nap. Your body relaxes, you seem to be floating and, if you have any thoughts at all, they are of the warm fuzzy sort … a pup licking your face, a perfect steak frites with béarnaise sauce, or sailing downwind, with a following sea from St. Somewhere. And then there is simply nothingness as you wake slowly, look around your house and realize that this is really a comfortable place and all things considered, you have a best friend and a dog and a job — so life is good and best of all — there are still two beers in the Fridge.
This is called Acceptance.
Alan Stark’s last story for the Gazette was “God’s Own Dog,” which appeared in #174. He lives in
Boulder and is co-owner of Boulder Bookworks.