Monday, March 24, 2014

The Mermaid Documentary

Clap your hands if you believe...

   I believe in mermaids. Or I did, for a beautiful minute. I have a story about the now infamous mermaid documentary. And, unlike the Animal Planet doc, my story is true. 

      Last year I went to Florida with my kids for an ill planned, last minute trip before school started and we had a nightmare of a time getting there. We missed our first flight, drove back home for ten hours, got stuck in a traffic jam due to an accident on the return trip. I was so stressed about missing the initial flight that I cried the entire way back to the airport the second time around, an atypical reaction from me that made the kids go very quiet and worried. I should have saved my tears for later. We had a terrible time at the airport (waited forever for the transit bus from long term parking to pick us up, like an hour and a half before it showed up, even with repeated calls on the phone in the waiting stall, so that by the time we were through security we barely made it onto the last boarding call, and then, of course, we got stuck on the runway for hours, then a terrible layover (hours instead of minutes due to storms somewhere), a terrible time at the Ft Lauderdale airport (the person who was supposed to pick us up flat out DIDN'T, so we spent hours getting to our destination by train, then by bus (the people and driver on the bus were incredibly kind and helpful; like the type of helpful out of the way kindness where you wish you could somehow give them a plate of cookies wherever they are right now, the type of kind stranger you never forget) and then about an hour walking to the hotel with heavy luggage in freaking August in freaking FL), and terrible time getting settled in our hotel (they couldn't find our paid reservation for an hour, I don't know why). By the time I sat on that hotel bed, I was so tired and anti-vacation. If there had been a sudden (they're never sudden, but still) hurricane alert, I wouldn't have been surprised.

     But my kids had grown up in Florida and missed the ocean something fierce (me too, it must be said) and we agreed we would change into appropriate garb and find a bus to the beach. So. We go back to the sugar sand that they'd grown up on, and it was wonderful. Floating in that warm, clear water was a baptism washing away every hellish detail of the previous twenty four hours. We spent hours swimming and laying out and just being happy. We remembered the old times there and made new memories and it was lovely. We stayed for hours and hours.

     So. The mermaid part:

     By the time we got back to the hotel, I was in that state of exhaustion where you feel you'll never sleep again (where everything seems kind of slow and floaty and underwater...the kind of fatigue that gives you false peace and energy, where you feel you'll solve The Grand Theory of Everything or whatever it's called, if only you just stay awake for a few more hours) but of course the minute my head hit the pillow, I was out cold. When I woke up later, I found a note from my kids saying their father had come by the hotel and taken them out to supper, so I fell asleep again, still covered in saltwater and sand, too tired to shower. I woke up again after a while, saw the kids were still gone, and turned on the tv to wake myself up, because I really wanted to sleep some more, but I needed to check in with the kiddos. 

     The mermaid show was on. It was about halfway through, and I was hypnotized from minute one.  I don't know if it was due to exhaustion, disorientation, or because I was finally a part of the ocean again after years of living landlocked, but the hair on my arms was standing up. Picture me sitting in sandy sheets chanting "I KNEW IT, I KNEW THEY WERE REAL, I DID, I KNEW IT!" A small part of me was all, hmm, those scientists are uniformly good looking and youngish and intense and well spoken. But mostly, at that exact moment it was on, I believed. I KNEW the government had covered up the existence of mermaids, and my poor heart BLED for those hard working, open minded scientists, because MY GAWD WHAT A DISCOVERY! THIS WAS LIKE FINDING OUT THAT THE AVENGERS MOVIE WAS BASED ON A TRUE STORY. A dream come true for those of us who were blessed to live in this age of wonders.

     It must be said that I am usually accused on a daily basis of being a cynical killer of dreams, by my kids and other loving individuals. I'm not usually a godforsaken idjit. Occasionally, sure; we all have an off day...but not on the regular. I try really hard not to be so cynical, but equally, I try not to FREAK OUT until I have a salient grasp of the facts. Except that day.
    Which is why, when my ex showed up with the kids about ten minutes after the show ended, I turned to the person who most in all the world already thinks I'm a precious ass and said "You won't believe it! They've found mermaids, for really real and my gawd, it's so sad, all the scientist's work was destroyed by the government, but more important is the Fact! Of! Mermaids!"

      Which is how I handed my ex a quiver full of flaming arrows and painted a big, red target on my big, sunburned butt. The look on his face when he said "It's fake, it's not a real documentary, look it up, you moron," can imagine the look. It's the look on your face right now, you smug bastard. He was dressed in his usual expensive clothes with his Florida native son perma-tan, well fed and rested, with my traitorous children gazing at him adoringly (they can be bought, like any reasonably intelligent child of divorce -  they'd been out for so long because they'd gone to the mall after supper...their love had been bought but GOOD) and I was in a sarong, with sand still sticking to parts of me, the most award winning case of bedhead ever to manifest on this mortal plane, and still not at all genuinely rested or truly awake. I was Off My Game. My rebuttal? "But it's on Animal Planet! It was an actual documentary. They wouldn't lie!" It makes me almost wither away from acute embarrassment just to type out that brilliant comeback, even though it's almost a year later. 

     But for a short, glorious time (even though the mermaid truthers online give me the whim whams every time one of their posts crosses my path) I welcomed my saltwater kin with all of my sand encrusted heart. The sixty minutes I believed were magical. The hour I first believed.  I almost wish you could all feel the way I felt, then. 

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