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Eli’s Coming

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  Why did the sight of that sailboat evoke a familiar feeling of foreboding?   By Hannah Wallace    “He is, among other things, an inveterate womanizer, not unlike the title character from the song by Three Dog Night, if you choose to look at it that way, which I don’t. I see it as […]

April 5, 2007


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Why did the sight of that sailboat evoke a familiar feeling of foreboding?
 
By Hannah Wallace
 
 “He is, among other things, an inveterate womanizer, not unlike the title character from the song by Three Dog Night, if you choose to look at it that way, which I don’t. I see it as a portent of something dark.” –Dan Rydell, Sports Night
 
 
Lately I’ve been searching for this, I don’t know, concept, or feeling or something. I have in my head a situation from somewhere in pop culture—and the trouble is, I know what sort of sensation the situation bears, but I can’t for the life of me remember the situation itself, or what movie (or book, or maybe even TV show) it comes from.
 
And the real trouble is, the best way to articulate the feeling is to describe the scene.
 
Well, actually, the sensation (or whatever) would easily be called “foreboding.” But it’s also got a sort of calm curiosity that comes after the spaceship is sighted but before the aliens blow up the world.
 
Hmm. Let me try this, ‘cause this is the thing:
 
Sometime last week, I finished my morning run, as usual, where Indian Beach’s houses and trees suddenly give way to wide-open Sarasota Bay. Having grown up in Whitfield Estates, I’m pretty attached to the immeasurable expanse of bay in my backyard. (I suppose at any time in the last couple of decades I could’ve looked at a map to see how far away Longboat Key is—not far at all, I’m sure—but I could never guess just by staring out across the water.) So I’m used to having that kind of uninterrupted distance close at hand.


Haven’t I seen you somewhere before? Gazing out at that suggestive sailboat.
 
But that particular morning, just around sunrise, I got past the last house and trees looked to my right, and…there was this sailboat. Just sitting there, interrupting the wide open water. And I don’t mean way-the-hell out there—it was like 50 yards from shore. All hulking and stationary and indifferent. It wasn’t doing anything besides being very still, but obviously it had gotten there somehow.
 
And what was it going to do next?
 
At night I saw it blocking the lights from Longboat. At first I thought I’d misremembered its location; then I realized the current had shifted and the boat had been pulled over to the other side of its reach, tugging at its anchor from a different direction and intruding on a slightly different spot in the tableau.
 
So, anyway, that’s the…what should I say? The motif? I’ve chosen for my life this week. I think everyone walks around starring in their own movie in their head from time to time, so I’m enjoying inserting a little artificial apprehension—what will our hero do?—into various things going on right now, imagining what cinematic trouble lurks in my work assignments or my weekend plans.
 
But I can’t for the life of me think of the movie I’m trying to recreate with this damn sailboat. “Giant spaceship blocking the sun” was the first image that occurred to me, and I’d hoped War of the Worlds had some kind of massive precursor to its invasion, but nope: just pod people. I know Dead Calm gets rolling with an ominous boat on the horizon, but (and I say this with undying love for Sam Neill), I’m really hoping my flight of fancy was inspired by a slightly more significant story. (Same goes for Independence Day—it can’t possibly be from that movie.)
 
Maybe this is actually a precursor to insanity, at last. The longer I’m stuck on this thought, the more the sailboat seems to loom.
 
The darn thing was still there this morning. In fact, now there are two of them out there.