Spitting out a bit of sand, seaweed and pieces of plastic Pacific refuse, I looked around.
By some miracle, I survived. The boat capsized.
But I somehow survived.
OH GOD. FUCK!
A large man in a straw sheath was standing above me.
His stillness and silence are hard to interpret. I could only assume one of three things:
- He doesn’t speak English
- He’s debating how edible I am
- He’s contemplating how digestible I am
Without warning, he sprang at me.
SHITE!!! It’s number two or three! Two or three!
Extending his hands under my backside, he lifted me up. Being as weak as I was, I couldn’t fight back. I couldn’t even resist.
Like a dead goldfish, I accepted my fate.
And passed out.
My eyes opened. Above me, bushels of green. The sky was much darker. The sound of children screaming wasn’t far off.
THEY’RE COOKING THE KIDS!! Those poor children are probably SIDE DISHES!!
Trying to break free from the rope by which I was tied down, I gave up the struggle within seconds.
Because, as it turns out, I wasn’t tied up.
I was in a hammock underneath some palm trees.
They know I can’t get far. I’m still very weak.
Technically, no no need to cage me up or tied me down.
I looked around the black sanded beach. The large man who brought me here was heading towards me.
With a coconut in his hands.
OH MY GOD, he’s going to strike me unconscious with the coconut AND THEN barbecue me.
Within minutes, I found him standing above me.
OH MY GOD! OH MY GOD! THIS IS IT!!!
I shut my eyes and folded into myself.
No head-cracking pain.
No coconut-hitting-the-head thud.
I felt my hands on what I assume was still my face.
Turns out death doesn’t hurt.
In fact, you feel pretty much like you do when you’re alive.
I opened my eyes.
Looking around, I saw the screaming kids.
They were playing tag on the beach.
Hmmm… okay, so I’m not dead. And the kids aren’t side dishes.
I looked back at the man. He held the coconut in front of me, inviting me to take it.
And he really doesn’t seem that interested to baste me.
I clasped the prickly furred orb, and drew it towards me.
It was filled with water. I drank it as quickly as I could.
The prospect of my eminent death, it seems, had made me very, very, very thirsty.
Let’s see… universal sign language for food… OH!
‘Hand with fingers cupped together, pecking at mouth’… I’ll try that. Maybe, just maybe, he’ll understand me.
The man looked at me, fabulously dumbfounded.
Continuing my gastronomical charade, I then tried ‘hand rubbing stomach’.
‘Lady, you want food?’, he asked.
‘You speak English!’ I sang with relief, ‘Yes! I’m So hungry!’
‘Well, you only have one choice.’
‘Look, Lady, Bunga Bunga is a poor island nation. We survive on IMF loans. We can’t afford luxuries like wheat, meat & rice.
‘And because we can’t keep up with the compounded interest on the loans, the IMF has taken all of Bunga Bunga’s staple foods as collateral, exporting it for profit.
‘So we use the IMF money to only buy necessities– Venti cappuccinos, iPhones & iPads.
‘Is this a joke? Tell ya what– let’s head to Starbucks then, for a Caramel Latte…’
‘Caramel ran out. Hazelnut is ok?’
‘Are you kidding me?’
‘No. We grow a lot of coffee. The IMF owns that too.
‘So it exports the coffee back to the US, who in turn sells it to the Starbucks corporation, which opened stores in Bunga Bunga. The Bunganese government collects all the rent from the store locations and puts the money in the Bunganese central bank, which then loans it out to the Bunganese people, so we can afford to eat at Starbucks, since that’s the only place we can get food on the island.’
‘You guys wear straw sheaths, live in straw huts, and I bet, probably have no running water or electricity, but you have Starbucks?!’
‘Look, lady, how else are we going to connect our iPads to the Internet?’
‘You don’t need Starbucks for Internet access! You need an INTERNET CONNECTION!’
‘Yeah, but what’s the point of surfing the Net without enjoying a cappuccino or a nice cold Frappucino.’
‘Give me your iPhone! I want a call a travel agent for a plane ticket OUTTA HERE!’
‘We don’t have planes, lady. We don’t even have an airport.’
‘You have iPhones. You have iPads. You have Starbucks, BUT YOU DON’T HAVE A AIRPORT?!’
‘You don’t need an airport to connect to the Internet.’
‘Look, do you have an American Embassy here?’
‘Yeah, if you go right at the next coconut tree, and past the Starbucks.’
‘Great, so after that Starbucks over there-‘
‘No, the next Starbucks.’
‘No. Not that one. The one after the one after the one after that one.’
‘Give me your iPhone!’
‘Who you going to call?’
‘The EMBASSY! What’s the number?’
‘You mean the smoke signals?’
‘There’s a smoke signal app we use. See? Right there.’
‘Have Angry Birds too?’
‘Yeah. But they only get mean when the islanders approach them.’
‘JUST SMOKE SIGNAL THE EMBASSY!’
‘Okay, it’s smoking… hold on… it’s still smoking but no one’s picking up. Oh wait! Here you go.’
‘Hello? Is this the American Embassy?’
‘Yes, how may we help you?’
‘I’m an American citizen. My boat capsized and I washed ashore on Bunga Bunga. I need you guys to get me back to the US.’
‘No problem, ma’am. We can arrange to transport you by boat tonight. That will be $5000.’
‘Excuse me? I don’t think you heard me. I am an American. I PAY TAXES. TECHNICALLY, THIS IS A RESCUE MISSION… DO MY TAXES NOT COVER THAT?’
‘No ma’am, afraid not.’
‘Then what the hell to do I pay taxes for?’
‘US taxes cover the enforcement of democracy around the world, so America stays safe.’
‘There’s no money to take me back to the US, but there’s money to give to the Bunganese to spend on iPhones and cappuccinos at Starbucks?’
‘Yes ma’am. That’s part of enforcing democracy.’
‘The best way to democratize a people is globalization and unlimited access to online porn.’
‘Are you kidding me?!’
‘No ma’am. The US government developed that strategy after seeing how successful it was with Americans.’
‘BULLSHIT! Have you not heard of a movement called ‘Occupy’?’
‘Did you participate in Occupy, ma’am?’
‘Did anyone you know participate?’
‘See, ma’am. Effective. If you’re dissatisfied ma’am, I’m more than happy to send an email to your local Congressman. Just give me his name.’
‘His name is Congressman KISS MY ASS! I’m calling CNN! The press will hear about this!?’
‘Lady, how you going to call CNN?’
‘You have Internet, you have an iPad, so you have Skype! Take me to Starbucks!’
Five minutes later, we reached Starbucks.
‘Okay, signed into Skype… an old classmate works at CNN and I think, I think, I still have him as a contact on Skype… let’s see… let’s see…searching… searching… AHA! Here we go!!’
Bloop bloop bloop bloop… BLOOP. Ring, ring. Ring, ring. Bloop!
‘Larry! Jesus! Thank God you answered! Have I got a story for you!’
‘So, I’m stranded on this island called Bunga Bunga and get this– I call the US Embassy to help me get home, and they won’t get me off the island unless I pay $5000!’
‘Is Brittany Spears there?’
‘Did you see Justin Beiber with his pants down?’
‘Brangelina? George Clooney? Menage-a-trois?’
‘Larry! For Christ’s sake!’
‘Listen, there’s no story if there’s no superstar.’
‘What are you talking about? CNN is supposed to cover stories about Constitutional Rights!’
‘Ratings, my friend. Ratings… stars get ratings.’
‘My rights as a US citizen are being violated! Isn’t that a story people should want to hear?!’
‘What about sexual violation?? And what if it was Tom Cruise who violated you?’
‘Alright. Tom Cruise violated me.’
‘Woah! Any Scientologists with him?’
‘Yeah, ALL OF THEM.’
‘Can I quote you?’
‘Yeah, Larry. Quote me!! BYE, LARRY!!!.’
Bloop. Conversation ended.
‘What will happen now, lady? CNN will eventually find out Tom Cruise isn’t here.’
‘I need press now. Truth, obviously, isn’t a criteria. Log onto CNN.’
‘WOW, lady! It’s already breaking news! Uh-oh… Tom Cruise’s publicist has already responded.’
‘What did he say?’
‘Hmmm… let’s see… let’s see…Well, basically, lady, he’s calling you a stalker. Wait… there’s a video interview with someone who says he’s your neighbor back home. I’ll play it.’
‘She’s always been really quiet, didn’t talk much to anyone. I always felt something was wrong with her. Not surprised she’s stalking Tom Cruise really. She’s probably an Islamic Fundamentalist.’
‘Lady, I don’t think your plan is working.’
‘But I’m not even Muslim!’
‘Hey, look! There’s another video of you, lady! Right there on CNN! Wearing a Mexican hat, jumping around and screaming ‘Ole, Ole’! The caption underneath says: ‘Tom Cruise Terrorist Stalker Yelling ‘Allah, Allah’ in Spanish’.
‘That was a bloody farewell party for a colleague! It was a Mexican theme! Five pitchers of margaritas into the party, everyone was screaming!’
‘Oh shit, lady. Now there’s news that Obama is holding a live press conference about you… look! look! There he is!’
‘My fellow Americans, it has come to my attention that a US citizen affiliated with ISIS, has destabilized the ally nation of Bunga Bunga. In order to protect Bunganese democracy, we will be deploying troops there within the hour.’
‘Lady! You are going to get us into a war! You gotta get out of here!’
‘This is inane! The media’s spinning this into a whole other story!’
‘Lady, you got to go to the Embassy!’
Leaving Starbucks, we trekked two minutes and found ourselves at the embassy, a small straw hut behind iron gates.
‘Good luck, lady!’
‘You’re not coming with me?!’
‘Lady, I won’t see the light of day again if I come in with you! Technically, I’m considered an accomplice.’
‘But you’re my only witness!’
And just like that, he took off.
Stopped by a marine who recognized my face from the news, he immediately handcuffed me and rammed me through the gates. Moments later, I found myself in front of the very man who had answered my phone call not even an hour ago.
‘Listen, I’m not a terrorist! I tried to call you almost an hour ago, asking to be rescued! You wanted to charge me $5000, and so I called CNN, but they weren’t interested in the story if it didn’t have a star attached to it! SO SUE me! I made it up! But AT LEAST it got your attention!’
He remained silent.
‘So what happens now?’
‘Well, the troops are on their way.’
‘So the government is willing to spend TRILLIONS of tax dollars to bring however many thousands of troops into Bunga Bunga, but won’t foot $5000 to take me back to the US?’
‘Don’t you want to avert A WAR?’
‘The President hasn’t declared war, ma’am.’
‘It’ll turn to one, because there’s no way in hell the Bunganese are going to accept this!’
‘Until congress approves it, it’s not a war ma’am.’
‘So, basically, we just sit here and wait for the troops.’
‘No ma’am. The American Embassy is being evacuated as we speak. We won’t be here.’
‘Yes, ma’am. Helicopters from a US carrier in the South Pacific are on their way.’
‘We’re being airlifted out of here? An hour ago, I couldn’t get a boat ride back home, but you’re airlifting to the US???’
‘An hour ago, it wasn’t an evacuation, ma’am.’
‘Why not send back the troops, avoid a possible war with Bunga Bunga and just take me home?’
‘If the troops are sent back, technically, there would be no need to evacuate ma’am.’
‘BUT THIS IS A CATASTROPHE! YOU HAVE TO STOP THIS!!’
‘Should have thought about the consequences yourself, ma’am, before destabilizing the island.’
‘I CAN’T BELIEVE I VOTED FOR OBAMA! AND TO THINK BUSH WAS BAD!’
‘Obama is better, ma’am.’
‘AND HOW’S THAT!!??’
‘He the first president to bring democracy to Bunga Bunga.’