Monday, July 26, 2010

Simon & Ivan's 600th Post . . .

 . . . is four days late and extremely foreboding. Yesterday over a cup of tea I was reading a lovely little story called "The Sailor-Boy's Tale," out of that book by Isak Dinesen/Karen Blixen/Baronness Why Must She Have Two Names.

The story is about a young sailor named Simon. It starts out very nicely with Simon rescuing a falcon from the rigging of his ship. What a lovely boy. La la la, the story proceeds pleasantly enough: Simon thinks about getting a watch, Simon buys an orange, Simon meets a pretty girl, Simon makes a date with the pretty girl, etc. Then Simon comes across a crew of Russian sailors. I quote: "One of the Russians was a giant, as big as a bear; he told Simon that his name was Ivan."

Oh lovely! I said to myself. It is a story about Simon and Ivan!

During the course of the night, Ivan gets really drunk and sort of loses Simon, but later finds him again: "I have found you, my little chicken. I have looked for you everwhere, and poor Ivan has wept because he lost his friend."

How sweet, I thought. What a nice story.

But then! The drunken Ivan becomes vaguely predatory and sort of alarming. His effusive proclamations of friendship, and moreover the bear-hug he has Simon in, threaten to keep Simon from his meeting with the pretty girl. So Simon stabs him. And he dies.


The rest of the Russians are now after Simon, but an old woman tricks them into thinking he's her harmless and innocent son. She turns out to be the very same falcon that he saved from the rigging. (She's a Lapp; Lapps can turn into falcons, didn't you know?) These stories emphatically do not have morals to them, but at this point I would have thought the lesson here was that you should be nice to animals. However, the old falcon lady then says this:

"So you are a boy who will kill a man rather than be late to meet your sweetheart? We hold together, the females of this earth. I shall mark your forehead now, so that the girls will know of that, when they look at you, and they will like you for it."

I, as a female of this earth, have a couple of objections to this. First, with the exception of the obligatory sharing of Ibuprofen, I am pretty sure women do not hold together much better than any other random sampling of the population. And second, having "casual murderer" marked on your forehead is not going to attract the ladies.

But it is silly to treat fairy-tale sentiments as if they could hold up in the world as we know it, so let us put that aside and focus on what a really disturbing story this is to have a Simon and an Ivan coincidentally show up in.

Ivan, I promise never to stab you if you promise never to refer to me as "my little chicken." Fortunately, I think these stipulations fall safely in the category of Unnecessary Guidelines for a Successful Friendship, right under, "Never remove a fly from your friend's forehead with a hatchet." Happy six-hundredth post, co-blogger!


Anonymous said...

Congratulations on reaching the 600 milestone!!!

I obviously have some reading of the back issues yet to complete. I hope there will not be a test....

Ms. Dinesen certainly writes on a variety of themes. I'm not sure if I realized Isak was a "she" before now (it is not exactly self evident from the name). For some reason, Isak leads me to Izaak, which means Izaak Walton to me (he wrote about fishing - about which I am not overly fond, but for some reason, the association sticks).

In any case - creepy, scary, coincidental or whatever else - I have enjoyed to reviews and commentary.

I also think I need to get a more up to date dictionary. I'm not sure that mine has even half of the words that Simon discusses with such elaboration.

Many more posts, please.

Pandora said...

600th Post! This is very exciting. I was delighted about Simon and Ivan's story, until I read, "as big as a bear." I knew someone was in trouble then. After those words, a character has to die. It's in the Writer's Rule Book. I'm just sorry it was over a girl. Isn't that against the Male Code?

Simon said...

@Anonymous: Were it not for those websites and Simon P.'s generosity in looking things up in the OED for me, I wouldn't be able to find out anything about those words either. Hooray for the internet! Also, I did not know Izaak Walton's name, but The Compleat Angler, and the other "Compleat" books, are for some reason familiar. Funny what gets in one's head.

@Pandora: Yes, "as big as a bear" should have tipped me off, too. I guess I was just hoping the bear would be friendly. Foolish! But, to be fair to the bear, it is not clear that he was intentionally ruining Simon's plans. I really think he was just very drunk. Note to any bear-sized drunken Russians: beware!

Anonymous said...

And.... speaking of bears:

Don't know if they are friendly or cuddly, but they are funny.

Simon said...

They look cuddly to me! I want one for my home.