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Yule Tide

Yule Tide


Having expended all its eloquence to no affect, the sea became anxious.

It had roared and thundered. It had lapped and surged. It had hissed and rocked. But the town did not notice. And time ran short. So, the sea, gathering together its puffs of affront, pulling into its massive shoulders its quivers of urgency, and rising itself up with its mighty strength, fell upon the shore as an unprecedented high tide. The tide overswelled the seawall beside the town, deluging its narrow lanes. The flood rose only three inches, but immediately and tremulously the town divined its deeper message. The sea retreated then to its accustomed level and waited. This happened the day before Christmas Eve.

On Christmas Eve the mayor shuffled to the beach and doffed his tall hat.

The mayor declaimed, "Dear sea, I come to you on behalf of the town and address you with deep contrition. You are a great sea and we are a small people. Somehow we have displeased you. Earnestly we beg your pardon. Please, now, O sea, tell us how we can please you. We are ready to do what you will."

And the mayor positioned his tall hat over his heart and bowed before the waves.

The sea rumbled.

The sea tossed and swished and churned.

And then the sea said, "I would like a baby doll that squeaks when you squeeze it. I would like the greatest hits of the Bee Gees. And I would like a very fast bicycle."

The mayor rose from his bow and looked over his shoulder. The town recorder had noted the desires of the sea. The town recorder nodded to the mayor. The mayor said then, lilting with relief, "Dear sea, you are mighty and we are miniscule. We do what you will."

And so the next day, on Christmas morning, the town's most beloved wet nurse carried a baby doll that squeaks to the beach. The town's preeminent oboe tuner lay a shrink-wrapped Bee Gees CD upon the doll's lap. And the town's undisputed ninepin champion wheeled the fastest bicycle available to the morning's debris line and stood it on its kickstand. Solemnly these gifts were deposited before the sea.

The few who participated in this offering and the many more who beheld it remarked on the eager frothing and sloshing of the waves. Together these witnesses tittered, crowding against the seawall. The bubbling tide rolled in then, took up its presents, and receded. And the townspeople returned with heartsease to their turkey feasts and TV specials.

For a fortnight then the sea smothered its toy doll with hugs, spun its racer's wheels like a turbine, and slurred its favorite disco tunes with unmistakeable strut. Squeaks could be heard one hour, and whirling pedals the next, while continuously Stayin' Alive rollicked at highest volume, even if garbled.

But finally: "Is this really all there is to this Christmas thing?" the sea grumbled. "Is this really it?" For soon the fast tires went flat, sooner the lyrics tasted hackneyed, and soonest the squeaking began to rankle. In short, the sea became bored.

In a fit of disillusionment the sea spit its new toys back onto the beach. Petulantly then it retreated to its lowest tide in living memory, leaving countless water creatures flopping breathlessly on the dark wet sands. The townspeople were to blame for this empty charade, the sea growled, accusingly. And it began sorting through all the titanic ways it might punish them. But, after many fantasies of cyclones and fish famines and squalls in perpetuity, the sea reconsidered the town's fault. Was the town really responsible for all of Western culture? And even as mighty as the sea was, the sea knew it could not destroy all of Western culture; experience taught this demoralizing truth.

The sea finally resigned itself to its dissatisfaction. It fell into a dead calm that lasted until Easter.



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Having expended all its eloquence to no affect, the sea became anxious.

It had roared and thundered. It had lapped and surged. It had hissed and rocked. But the town did not notice. And time ran short. So, the sea, gathering together its puffs of affront, pulling into its massive shoulders its quivers of urgency, and rising itself up with its mighty strength, fell upon the shore as an unprecedented high tide. The tide overswelled the seawall beside the town, deluging its narrow lanes. The flood rose only three inches, but immediately and tremulously the town divined its deeper message. The sea retreated then to its accustomed level and waited. This happened the day before Christmas Eve.

On Christmas Eve the mayor shuffled to the beach and doffed his tall hat.

The mayor declaimed, "Dear sea, I come to you on behalf of the town and address you with deep contrition. You are a great sea and we are a small people. Somehow we have displeased you. Earnestly we beg your pardon. Please, now, O sea, tell us how we can please you. We are ready to do what you will."

And the mayor positioned his tall hat over his heart and bowed before the waves.

The sea rumbled.

The sea tossed and swished and churned.

And then the sea said, "I would like a baby doll that squeaks when you squeeze it. I would like the greatest hits of the Bee Gees. And I would like a very fast bicycle."

The mayor rose from his bow and looked over his shoulder. The town recorder had noted the desires of the sea. The town recorder nodded to the mayor. The mayor said then, lilting with relief, "Dear sea, you are mighty and we are miniscule. We do what you will."

And so the next day, on Christmas morning, the town's most beloved wet nurse carried a baby doll that squeaks to the beach. The town's preeminent oboe tuner lay a shrink-wrapped Bee Gees CD upon the doll's lap. And the town's undisputed ninepin champion wheeled the fastest bicycle available to the morning's debris line and stood it on its kickstand. Solemnly these gifts were deposited before the sea.

The few who participated in this offering and the many more who beheld it remarked on the eager frothing and sloshing of the waves. Together these witnesses tittered, crowding against the seawall. The bubbling tide rolled in then, took up its presents, and receded. And the townspeople returned with heartsease to their turkey feasts and TV specials.

For a fortnight then the sea smothered its toy doll with hugs, spun its racer's wheels like a turbine, and slurred its favorite disco tunes with unmistakeable strut. Squeaks could be heard one hour, and whirling pedals the next, while continuously Stayin' Alive rollicked at highest volume, even if garbled.

But finally: "Is this really all there is to this Christmas thing?" the sea grumbled. "Is this really it?" For soon the fast tires went flat, sooner the lyrics tasted hackneyed, and soonest the squeaking began to rankle. In short, the sea became bored.

In a fit of disillusionment the sea spit its new toys back onto the beach. Petulantly then it retreated to its lowest tide in living memory, leaving countless water creatures flopping breathlessly on the dark wet sands. The townspeople were to blame for this empty charade, the sea growled, accusingly. And it began sorting through all the titanic ways it might punish them. But, after many fantasies of cyclones and fish famines and squalls in perpetuity, the sea reconsidered the town's fault. Was the town really responsible for all of Western culture? And even as mighty as the sea was, the sea knew it could not destroy all of Western culture; experience taught this demoralizing truth.

The sea finally resigned itself to its dissatisfaction. It fell into a dead calm that lasted until Easter.



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John Dishwasher

Yule Tide