MARINE GEOLOGY'S NOT IT
Dreamed 1984/6/2 by Chris Wayan
In my kitchen, a friend is agonizing over a career change. Her options are much like mine, so I follow her closely. She's leaning toward marine geology, though it's the least respectable choice. Why? Well... there are three personality types who go in for marine geology. We get to meet examples, just like Ebenezer Scrooge got to meet three spririts of Christmas.
First, a balding bearded middle-aged man cheerfully tells us we're all living in a vast cave inside the Earth. Oh great, nut-case geologists. And the worst part is, it's infectious: we see the cave around us now. Though, as we follow him deeper in, it's not so big--narrowing fast, down to a throat just a few inches wide! He says "I know how it looks, but you can go on as far as you want." But I can't! Unless we shrink or it grows. Unless it's his insane theories we have to go deeper into. No thanks.
Off to one side are muddy lumps. Man-shaped lumps. I clean off the mud and find... the second type of marine geologist. Twins. We take them to our house and clean them up. They put on jeans and lumberjack shirts. They move right in and make themselves at home. Loud, rowdy, opinionated twins, one completing the other's sentences, laughing too much and listening too little. They'd be fine in the wilderness whacking on rocks, but like dogs too big for indoors, they tire us out fast in here.
The geological twins decide to whip up some chocolate pudding. Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble... Yuck. It looks just like the mud in that cave! It's even lumpy. Uh oh. Geologist-shaped lumps. Damn.
But I dutifully reach in, and out of the pudding, I pull three more men. The third type of marine geologist. Identical triplets.
Wild? The twins were nothing. These three are back-woods axe-wielding hellraisers who drink, shoot, set fires, come on hard and won't take no, lie, smoke anything, scare everyone, fight anyone, and break everything. What with the twins too, our house starts to feel like an Ohio tavern full of rum-drunk boatmen from about 1812. No wonder marine geology's the least respectable career in the world.
Still, being a giant appeals to me even less than being a marine geologist. And my friend's sick of playing barmaid.
I shout "A little respect, please!"
And the dream listens. I get respect.
So now I'm a bourgeois Frenchman, before 1900, married to my friend. We're living out that Renoir film "A Day in the Country."
We're returning to Paris at her request. Ultimatum, really. She said "If you are a gendari, we'll leave this house at once."
"I'm no gendarme" I said, then recalled that dropping your P's is a fad in my wife's circle this year, and that "gent de Paris" is slang for "the civilized, who follow the Rules of the Game" as shown by the great Renoir. As I said, an ultimatum.
Moody, sultry, she sprawls on the blue bed, pouting with that sensual mouth, tossing her dark hair. For once I come up with reasons to stay in the country as I look out the screen door, smelling the flowers.
For my custom as an enlightened 19th Century bourgeois is to walk every Sunday while others are in church, coffined in gray stone. I walk amid flowers, see Creation direct. I feel so revolutionary (also, I am not partial to sermons). My wife always admired this and encouraged my little rebellion. But now she says "I don't feel well, I want to return to Paris!" I humor her much these days; she is imperiously pregnant, you see. But this is simply not like her; unreasonable, impatient, and curiously sudden.
When did it start? AH! When we met Alice the Whiz Kid, that sweet American girl--direct, clever, bold, young, birdlike. I admit, I was enchanted. And my wife sensed it; she saw a rival. So I stiffen my resolve to stay. I'll not let my wife's jealousy ruin my vacation.
But she sees the change in my eyes, and she alters tactics, drastically. No longer will she be pregnant, for that failed to sway me. Perhaps seduction will. She turns over, slender now, indeed, "elegaunte", as the English say. She sways in a hammock, not a blue bed. Her frilly peach dress has melted too; she's in a yellow-orange catsuit. Are we in the Mod Sixties now? She tries so hard, but my heart is not swayed; I turn back to look at the flowers.
She switches again, tries abject begging. She crawls to me, as if she can't walk. "Truly, Jean, I am ill! Take me home!"
I shall avenge her pretense. Tenderly I say "Since you cannot walk, and I, I too feel a touch, I cannot carry you," and drag her through the summerhouse, over door-sills, till all her tender bottom is so sore. Perhaps she'll be honest with me now.
But she has no chance, for a fire alarm shrieks at the far end of the train (ha, perhaps you forgot this was a train, yes?) I am amused at this intrusion; perhaps the other guests do not relish our spectacle, (more likely some enjoy it too much). But let the railway officials handle this alarm. Children sound them constantly, these fires are never real. She paid them a few sous, I assume.
But this time, the Conductor strides into the parlor with a sober look and says "The fire is real this time. We have proof it was... arson!" The guests gasp. "It was set, we believe, by... your wife, m'sieur."
Now this is too much, I cannot gloss this over, this is not 'gendari.' She must pay for her barbarity. I say calmly "Yes, mental illness in her family, you know. Brought on by passion, jealousy, and... trains. Combining them like this made her arson quite inevitable, I'm afraid." She glares at me and I look sad and innocent.
Then, in the same moment, we both realize: genteel bourgeois sniping is no more fun than the blunt hammering of marine geologists. Both are wrong for us, utterly wrong. Mean-spirited and tedious! No, no. No more of this.
It's time to make mud pies, and try again.
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