The Resting Place

Amid the palm trees on the white sandy beaches of Beach Island Resort on Beach Island rest lounge chairs just like the ones you're imagining, shaded by witch-hat thatch-roofs stabbed umbrella-wise into the white sand. The lounge chairs point to blue water, the kind of turquiose blue water seen in postcards from places like Beach Island Resort. What it is, my vantage point I mean, is The Lagoon Bar, which is tables and chairs in sand, all beneath a thatch-roof, facing the blue-blue water, and between The Lagoon Bar and all this improbably blue salt water are the witch-hat-shaded lounge chairs and palm trees and beach and then the water, the water being say forty paces from The Lagoon Bar. Between any two palm trees there is always a hammock-for-two, the kind of hammock made of white-rope-webbing between two lengths of wood perpendicularly suspended from the trees. In The Lagoon Bar are wooden tables and wooden chairs, as well as a line of blue beanbag chairs. The beanbag chairs are fluffed up with a final twist by a Fijian man wearing a floral print shirt and a flower behind his left ear. Children run on the white sandy beach looking for and finding what they call hermit crabs, which they may be. The crabs, I mean. In the water mask-and-snorkeled snorkelers snorkel. Fluorescent fins. The Fijian man with the flower behind his ear tells a Kiwi that he played rugby as a youth. The Kiwi when asked says he is fifty-nine. The Fijian is fifty-two, he claims, unasked. Both laugh in strange wonder at this discovery. Both played rugby, in their youth, they soon discover. They have become too old to play now, they agree, and laugh. The Kiwi holds a paperback book, which he reads after the Fijian bows away from their discussion. A woman holding a saucer and cup of tea or coffee eases herself into one of the hammocks, resting in slack-faced horror after realizing her hammock-error too late. Hammock-error is sitting in a public hammock. Nothing to be done, she owns her action and follows through, feigning comfort, pushing feet into sand, ass wobbling backwards into the center of the web, this center pushing down to maybe five or six inches from the sand. Get Lucky by Daft Punk plays softly. In the hammock, this woman of indeterminate ethnicity, brown and slight of build, digs further into the hammock, lifting her bare legs into the hammock, and now pushes herself deeper in from the hammock itself; heel of left foot jutting her body into the center of the web, her only thought possible now is a realization that she has reached a point of no return, and maybe a sense of pride and relief in having managed to entangle herself into objectively-perceived hammock-comfort without spilling the hot contents of her cup onto self, hammock, or sand. Now what's key is remaining in the hammock, using body language to spin hammock-error into apparent hammock-comfort, in front of everyone in The Lagoon Bar and The Pacific Ocean. I'd say to maintain the ruse of hammock-comfort a mimimum of ten hammock-minutes are required. The hammock-minute is tricky; for those of us without the disposition hammocks require the hammock-minute may seem an eternity. This unease, coupled with a hot beverage, cannot be quantified. Aussie or Kiwi children chirp loudly at the sand, swatting at it with handheld flip flops; an aurally fortuitous development the woman in the hammock surely finds to be a major boon, their screams of delight diverting the audience's attention from her situation in the hammock. The children have dug a small sand-pit into which found “hermit crabs” are placed. The children refer to the pit as “the resting place.” The children indeed took my attention from the woman in the hammock long enough to miss the fact that she has doubled down by lighting a cigarette, a bold move in comfort-feigning. In each hand she holds at bay fiery or scalding peril, and the wind is strong enough to rock her back and forth. A man carrying saucer and cup of tea or coffee approaches; her companion of indeterminate ethnicity, brown and of slight build. She silently rests as he circles the hammock and sits down on it, in it, becoming as she has, of it. He too, can only be thinking of his error, as he too holds a hot beverage, squirming back toward the middle of the hammock seemingly to be nearer to his companion, which in a hammock has far more to do with physics than desire. They speak. Broadly they can only be talking about one thing: the terrific error of the hammock situation they've gotten themselves into. Specifically, the man can only–behind a false smile of ease–be softly asking his companion why in fuck she didn't warn him not to get into that hammock; but of course he too is publicly of the hammock now and along with his companion must also own it, the situation, and keep up the ruse of hammock-comfort in front of all onlookers. They share the cigarette, and each, after passing the cigarette to their companion, quickly palm the hammock with a freed hand in an instinctual act of stabilization. The children scream, peering into The Resting Place, nudging hermit crabs on the unseen bottom with flipflops. An Australian or Kiwi woman announces to an Australian or Kiwi man that she is going to get the camera to take a “fido” which is Kiwi or Australian for “photo,” as well as a common dog-name. The couple in the hammock are no longer smoking the cigarette. The held cigarette butt, the extinguishing of which I missed, opens a window of opportunity to legitimately de-hammock without losing face, by seeking a trash can or ashtray. The woman realizes this, the opportunity, and takes it, leaving her companion swinging alone with his dawning realization that he must remain prone and behammocked, else-wise lose face and gain a reputation as a kind of hammock-pussy, unable to hack the self-effacing relaxation hammocks require a person to give in to and publicly display. This will not happen, he decides, he will not become a behammocked caricature of himself. The children play Marco Polo in the sand, a few yards away from The Resting Place. The man in the hammock, still holding his hot beverage, makes like all is extremely well indeed thank you very much, and still holding cup and saucer elbows his way deeper into the hammock; bony joints protruding through the stretching web toward the sand, which is at times inches from his struggling, suspended body. Pivoting left, cup clinking on saucer, he throws a leg up onto the hammock, into the hammock, and the other leg dangles as he attempts the augmentation of his relaxation-ruse. From The Lagoon Bar speakers, a Coldplay song presses itself into the air like hotdog factory meat in zero gravity. The children laugh and scream and shriek “Polo,” one girl hand over eyes, at times dangerously and blindly close to The Resting Place, amid the other children, screaming “Marco.” I've never given much thought to the fact that there's really no requisite reason to play Marco Polo only in a liquid, chest-deep environment. The Man in the Hammock has managed to swing both legs into the hammock, and is lighting another cigarette; cup and saucer blocking the wind from his cigarette lighter. Cigarette in mouth the man pockets the lighter and heroically feigns hammock-comfort, which beginning from now, now that he's stretched himself out and lit that cigarette, will require a ten-hammock-minute follow through minimum, especially given the fact that he and his companion have both visually asserted their extreme comfort and ease with hammocks in general and this hammock in particular. A Fijian woman rakes the sand beneath and around the tables and chairs Zen-rock-garden-smooth in The Lagoon Bar. The Man in the Hammock smokes his cigarette and drinks his hot beverage in defiance of all reason; the wind is strong enough to rock him from side to side in his assumed comfort, elbow oscillating up and down to maintain parallel synchronicity between beverage and earth surfaces. Young people of both sexes walk past him, wearing swim suits and wicker fedoras, holding long, deep-blue beach towels. The Man in the Hammock can only be thinking of his situation in the hammock. He is thinking about hammocks and how much he resents them, and realizes that he has unwittingly initiated himself into the hammock-savvy contingent of humanity, that this is his rite of passage, and inwardly cringing, knows he has hunted for, found, and is sitting in the snipe of furniture, and wonders who around him in this savage brotherhood of scorn are inwardly, knowingly laughing at his mock-comfort and ease. He fools none of the previously-hammocked, he knows. He resents his now-absent companion for not warning him; for allowing him to take his place by her in the hammock at all, for requiring of him the company miserable companions love. The man in the hammock, lying prone lengthwise, pities himself and fumes inwardly. The wind increases and rocks him back and forth in externally-perceived comfort, heightening both his self-awareness and resolve to keep the hammock-lie alive. The hammock will not be his undoing; a bilious resolve spurs him on. He will go out fighting, hammock be damned. If this sip of coffee or tea spills and burns his face he will not grimace in pain, let alone scream in discomfort. He curses himself for not realizing that the hammock can only bring disgrace on a person, but like a frostbitten traveler gaining his second wind, surrounded by a shoreless sea of icy tundra, he chooses life and presses on; the hammock will win neither battle nor war. He still resents his companion who allowed this to happen to him, but he knows he would have and should have foreseen his undoing if he'd just thought about the physics of hammocks for a second or two before diving in. The Man in the Hammock accepts that he, if he is honest with himself, is the only one to blame. But was there a signal in his companion's expression before he hastily lowered himself to this state? Is she truly so unfamiliar to him that he is unable to detect in her the level of discomfort that only a public hammock can bring? What else is he unable to see in her, what other horrors is she hiding from him? What other paths to despair is she allowing him to walk along? Or is she hiding nothing after all? Maybe it's he who is unable to read the obvious in her face. There must have been a momentary wince in her, some sign of discomfort, even for a split second, as he blindly walked into the hammock's maw. The hammock awakens in him a grim understanding that he is certain of nothing, and realizes it's not only hammock-communication, but a whole host of misunderstood signals from his companion that he is unable to interpret. His lack of understanding, he furthermore realizes, isn't limited to signals from his companion, but in fact extends to everyone else in the world as well. The hammock is currently the joke he remains the butt of for every passing moment he remains there, but with that realization comes this crisis of identity on a universal level. The hammock-savvy know this but he will show them he's the stronger. After a length of time it will be unclear even to the hammock-savvy if he is feigning relaxation or not. He will remain in the hammock for hours if need be. If there is a god, he too will be fooled into believing The Man in the Hammock is at ease. The Man in the Hammock will feign fitful sleep as well as simple relaxation. The hammock-savvy will find him an anomaly; someone who in fact does find hammocks relaxing, recharging, and it's the hammock-savvy who will second-guess themselves; including his wayward companion. She too will wonder at his stamina after a time, after say maybe two or three hours of his staying in the hammock. He will calmly finish his tea, and deftly use the natural swing of the hammock to idly and neatly place his cup and saucer onto the sand beneath him, in screamingly evident defiance of an opportunity of hammock-escape that comes only with windows opened by things like the emptied teacup. It can't be more than a few hours until lunch is served, and he resolves that he will remain in the hammock until then, feigning sleep, or even better, achieving sleep, and his companion will need to rouse him in order to tell him lunch is being served. He will need to be cajoled from the hammock and his extreme and obviously-for-real relaxation; he will receive silent, invisible nods from the hammock-savvy, who will see in him one of two things: 1) A man capable of heroic comfort-feigning well beyond the reaches of their limited imaginations up to this point, or 2) even more amazingly, they will find him to be in fact a man for whom hammocks give comfort, someone who when seeing a hammock, probably says, “oooooh a hammock!” in earnest. Either way, his companion and anyone else on the island, to say nothing of the hammock itself, won't have a goddam thing to say about his folly in hopping headlong into the hammock. His companion will be the one to question herself re: her ability to perceive and understand him; it is she and they and IT who will second-guess their own notions, not the other way around. An often played song by the abysmal The Counting Crows plays from The Lagoon Bar's speakers, it's the song that has the emphatically sung lyric “it's very very late,” and the children kick sand into The Resting Place, filling it up and patting it disappeared on this beach on an island in The Pacific Ocean, and as near as The Man in the Hammock can tell none of this registers to any of the revelers here as anything other than reality as it utterly is and should be. Or, The Man in the Hammock might not notice any of it, The Resting Place, The Counting Crows, the outrageous finality and temerity of it all, of all of it. The Man in the Hammock might not see beyond his hammock; the universe may be an abstraction; existence itself just something to hopefully fool into believing he is at ease. Perhaps he only wonders if anyone sees him in the hammock, if they judge him or not. He likely wonders over the definitions of “victory” and “defeat,” and if after stepping into the role of The Man In The Hammock, victorious or otherwise, if he is human at all anymore. The Counting Crows continue to beat the shit out of every dead horse they can find in public without noticeable reaction from anyone, –or is there, a reaction I mean; The Counting Crows a horrible hammock of sound that humanity as a whole claims to enjoy, forgetting it's a lie, fooling only ourselves, or no one at all; one or the other. No grey area. Mr. Jones and me etc etc etc etc. I'm on an island in The Pacific Ocean in a chair surrounded by The Counting Crows and everything that that means and implies. The Man in the Hammock remains The Man in the Hammock. Hammocks are everywhere, here. Each step a hammock-choice. As is the case everywhere, really.