The Original

Episode Two Hundred Thirteen: The Original.
In which we wonder what happened to that guy.

1 comment:

  1. This is a true story, at least as far as my memory goes. My father and I made two trips up to Barrow Alaska in the late 80s, and on one we met a man in Pepe's (I think it was Pepe's) who was in his forties and had never left NYC until this vacation, where he'd booked an extended tour of Alaska, and inexplicably ended up being the only English speaker on the tour.

    He is hard to forget. How the hell did that happen? Did he go to a travel agent (this was pre-Internet) who, so annoyed with him, stuck him on this absurdist adventure? I will never know.

    He was so desperate for conversation. "This coffee is really expensive; these homemade donuts aren't that great." Complaints of banality, and although I kept reminding him that everything had to be flown in, so of course resources were scarce and prices were high, he registered no recognition of comprehending what I was saying.

    I'll never know what he meant by 'the original donut'. Was it a framed donut, like a business' first dollar bill? Or was it just a model - like a plain donut with a little handle that you can use for dunking in coffee? In either case, how is that a noteworthy topic for conversation with a stranger? He seemed surprised that there were Dunkin Donuts outside of NYC. There is so much about this man that will never be explained.

    This was thirty years ago, and even then the old air force base - Barrow was an early-warning radar station - was coming up through the ice. When the military left, they just dug down and dumped everything and then took off, and all their garbage was being puked back up out of the ice. I can't imagine what it must be like years later.

    While looking for images of Barrow for this strip, I came across articles that said Pepe's burnt down several years ago. The owner vowed to bounce back, but there was no follow up that I was able to come across. This makes me sad. Visiting that community was such a brief couple of moments in my life, but they were significant and hold a solid place in my heart.



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