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Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Travels in Liliblogdom, Part 1

Liliana told me Tutu-man’s invisible gourd helmet made the unseen seen. She told me it took her back in time, made spirits corporeal, drew demigods to her, and made her head hot. Of course I dismissed these claims as phantasms born of a fertile mind seeded with the stories her grandfather told her as she rode around Kauai seated before him on his motorcycle. When Lili, (as I thought) pantomimed handing the helmet to me, I was prepared to pretend to feel the weight of it. Imagine my surprise when I reflexively flexed to hold a real weight – to not drop the nothing – in front of me.

I was on the couch, with a heavy slab of Koa wood on my lap, and with my laptop attuned to The Daily Kos, atop that. I brought my hands, and whatever I grasped between them, in front of my face. The edge of it hit the computer screen. I moved my hands all around it. Yes, it was in the shape of a helmet fashioned of a gourd. Yes, the texture was… gourdy. I stared but discerned no hint of substance betwixt my palms; there was no betraying flash of light such as a glass surface might cause with imperfect refraction, nor any, ever so faint, smudge. It was invisible.

That meant Liliana’s stories were all true. All the stories of her adventures with Tutu-man; of giants and gods and goddesses and menehunes and mo’os and more, were all true. What were the limits of this device's power? Tutu-man's stories had directed Liliana’s thoughts before she donned it. Where would it bring me? I trembled as I pulled it down over my head. The texture was hard and grainy- about what I thought a helmet created of a gourd would feel like.

“Joblobley?” a man said.

“Joooo- blob- ley,” another replied.

I remained in my home, or at least in a place that assumed its shape. The furniture was different only in the details. I remained seated on a couch, but it wasn’t my couch. There was a coffee table in front of mine, but it was made of glass, not wood, and atop it were various decorative candles rather than a stack of National Geographic magazines.

“JOBlobLEY!” I said. Only it wasn’t me. I was not only invisible, I was untouchable, ungraspable. The man who had so emphatically claimed JOBlobLEY had Kitty Pride-ed me. He was phased into me on the couch, or vice versa. I jumped up off the couch, (though how could I have pushed off it?) and screamed. None of the 20+ people in the room noticed. I was truly invisible, untouchable, and apparently unable to be comprehended by any person’s senses.

“JobLOBley!” yelled another man.

Everyone started clapping, and quite a few approached and shook his hand or hugged him.

A few moments passed.

“Jobobley?” a woman asked in a high, shrill octave.

“Jobobley,” answered another, this time with a throaty, deeper tone.

“Jobobley,” said a man.

Whereas people were stressing different syllables of the word “Jobobley” during the first exchange, this time they used tones to change the word.

After eight or nine more “Jobobleys” a falsetto version seemed to satisfy all, and another round of clapping and congratulations began.

This happened nine or ten times before I walked out of the home, bored despite the oddity of the conversations. The house, much like my home on Kauai, overlooked the ocean. I followed a trail down to the beach. All over the beach groups of people were having “Jobobley” conversations, intoning the word in seemingly endless variation- arguing until one version of Jobobley was found to be superior. What sort of land was this? What sort of people?

The answer, or rather the solution to the mystery, sailed into the bay a few minutes later. It was an old fashioned war ship. It reminded me of The US Constitution, a famous fighting ship I’d read about. The ship was slightly keeled to one side, propelled along by trade winds. Rows of cannon pointed towards the shore from three or possible four decks. It was too far away to tell.

Soon people around me started pointing out towards the ship, and the cries of “Jobobley” grew shrill and angry and hoarse. The ship tacked around, and in the midst of the maneuver, for the first time, I could see the front surface of the sails. A giant green lizard stood out in fierce relief. Its red tongue seemed poised to snatch a meal of the the letters "LGF" as the ship came nearer and then completed its tack. Now I could count the gun decks. There were four in all.

I saw the flash of before I heard the sound of the guns. I pulled the helmet off before I remembered that I could not be harmed.

I was back on the couch with Liliana.

“What did you think?” she asked.


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