The sun sinks below the horizon, and the sky alights into a world of oranges and reds. The heat of the afternoon hasn't faded yet but the cool breeze wafting off the river keeps the sting of it at bay. Behind me I hear colors, its slow sad melody accentuated by the piping of the bosun's whistles as the flags on the boats are slowly lowered. A soft smile plays across my features as I stand my post at the end of the pier.

Today is a bad day for me. Intense, emotional, bad things happened. And then my camera fell out of the closet and busted my wide angle lens, the one I take all my Antarctica landscapes with.

I was looking for something in my closet. I was looking for a letter from an infectious diseases doc that says I don't have a particular infectious disease, that if I did have the first time they told me about it, would have insured my death by now. The bastards don't realize I don't have it despite the tests coming out positive, and I can't find the doc's letter and the lawyer handling my grandfather's estate won't return my calls because he's a total bastard.

And now my camera is broken, and unlike when I bought it, I don't have the money to fix it.

I found this when I was looking for the letter, which got the camera broken. This was written by a guy named Ed, who works in the galley at McMurdo in Antarctica. He offered this one night in our writer's class. Yes, we have a writer's group in Antarctica. It's one of a kind. Usually there's a professional writer there because several come down every year as the guest of the National Science Foundation, and they offer to be big shots and help all us tyros, and we read what we wrote and they nod and smile and think, "what dreck," but say only polite things. Then they go away and write their books and forget all about us.

Ed wrote this and when he read it, I got really happy. It's such a simple, good-natured guy thing to write. Me and Ed were the only guys in the writer's group, and I write all this weird love stuff, that's almost like girl writing a lot of the time. And so when Ed read his totally boy thing, I was practically tearing up with joy, or maybe actually. Because it was totally ice and totally real and when he finished reading it I begged him for the paper. He gave it to me. It's one of a kind, beer stained and ragged from riding on the bottom of my briefcase for this almost a year.

Ed imagined a bachelor party he would have one day. Mostly, he was hoping for a wife, to meet one who would have him. But he wrote it this way, which is the way ice boys think about things.

I hope Ed doesn't mind me reproducing it here for you. I offer it here, exactly as Ed wrote it.

My Bachelor Party

We're going to drink cheap beer, holding the bottlenecks with full fists, sucking the beer from the bottle instead of sipping it. A black limo will drive us to the bowling alley. In the limo will be my closest male friends...and a handful of very good-looking, very large breasted women in fancy, seductive dresses. They will not be hookers or strippers. They will be there to take care of us and make us feel special, the way hookers and strippers take care of us and make us feel special. They will give us back rubs so that we bowl strikes. They will make sure our beers are always full and cold. There will never be a quarter of a beer in our bottles. Quarters of beers in bottles get warm easily. There will be more than a quarter, or we will be sucking the bottle empty. A new, cold beer will be handed to us by one of the girls who are there to take care of us the way hookers and strippers do. They will deliver this beer to us in a way that is painfully sexy. The bend in their wrist, the tilt of their head, the subtle wink as the exchange takes place. If you are married, you will wish that you weren't. You will bowl the occasional spare, but mostly, you will bowl strikes.

We will be a spectacle. Everybody who is not us will be envious. Jealous, in fact. They will wish they were us. Laughing, bowling perfectly, being seduced by lucious women and sucking cheap, cold beer from the bottle.

Our attire will be outrageous. Either because we will be in tuxedos, and who wears a tuxedo bowling? Or because they're just plain outrageous. Stupid sunglasses, shirts that sparkle, pants that are ether far too baggy and bellbottomed, or far too tight.

You are a good friend of mine and I will be happy that you're there. We will be drunk and say, "I love you man," and mean it. We'll slap high-fives and hug. We'll almost stop breathing when we laugh about that one time Zach walked in with the banana rack in his hand.

I don't know what we'll do when the bowling is over, but that doesn't matter. We will still have the limo and our large-breasted women who are not hookers or strippers. The night will be young, and tomorrow--or maybe the day after so I will not be hung over at my wedding--I will get married to the woman of my dreams and the future mother of my cool, well adjusted and happy kids.

I am happy to live in the same world and breathe the same air as Ed. I am proud to have heard his piece in the lounge of dorm 203b, at McMurdo station at the bottom of the earth, watching the skuas steal trash from the triwall outside, while the sun circled overhead as it has for millennia, never setting in the Austral summer, turning the sea ice gold and bronze, illuminating the Ferrar glacier so it looked like a stairway to God.

I pray that someday Ed will find the woman of his dreams and have his bachelor party at the bowling alley to launch himself on his new happy life, and bowl the occasional spare, but mostly strikes. He deserves something good. We all do, occasionally.

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