Inspired by the seven consecutive days of rain last week — the following is a retelling of the classic tale of Noah’s Ark. The author humbly asks her audience — human and other worldly — to forgive artistic license.
Noah & Co. make ready The Ark for its debut launch. The scene is one of controlled chaos as clean-cut beasts, beasts that are not clean-cut, cattle (future I-bankers) and fowl (artsy stoners with big scarves) make their way up the gangplank toward check in.
Ham stands with a clip board and stack of papers. Rain falls in sheets.
Me: Hi. I’ve got a reservation under Sikdar. First name Jana.
Me: Not Applicable.
He glances up.
Ham: Excuse me?
Me: I believe I abstained from that question on my application. A person’s identity can’t really be captured by checking a box.
Mutters as he flips through papers.
Ham: Here you are. I’ve got you down as a self-marginalized troublemaker. I need your one way ticket-to-survival. That’s the laminated blue card that came along with your acceptance letter. And I need a picture ID from your guest.
I rifle through my bags.
Me: I’ve got that ticket somewhere. My mom is always telling me to travel with one of those fanny packs, but I just can not bring myself to wear one. They are so tacky. I don’t care if it’s the Great Flood, those things are totally embarrassing. Here you go … and it’s just me.
Ham: Excuse me?
Me: I didn’t bring a guest. I won’t be needing my plus one.
Ham: I’m sorry, but this is a Couples-Only Cruise.
Me: Yes but —
Ham: This ticket was issued to Jana Sikdar and Guest. The “and Guest” was not a request. It is a requirement for all passengers surviving on The Ark to check-in with their plus one.
Me: But —
Ham: I’m sorry, but rules are rules. Isn’t there someone you could call?
Me: Yeah, hopefully Julia —
Ham clears his throat in disapproval.
Me: Oh … we’re just friends.
Ham: Look, I’m not judging. But the Two-By-Two agreement that you signed with your application explicitly stated that all pairs aboard the Ark would consist of, “the male and his female.”
Me: You’re joking! When this weather clears, the B.C.L.U.–
Ham: The … ?
Me: Before. Christ. Liberties. Union. They are going to have a field day with you people.
Overhearing the argument, Shem sidles up.
Shem: Everything all right over here?
Ham: I’ve got it Shem —
Me: No. Everything is not all right! First I’m discriminated against because I’m single. Now, I’m told there is a problem with same sex partners —
Ham: I’ve got it under control. There was some sort of mix up and Ms. Sikdar did not come with a date.
Shem: She’s alone?
Me: Hey, I have got great friends and a very supportive family. In an existential sense we’re all alone buddy!
Shem: Ham, Can you go make sure the G.O.P couple from Scarsdale got moved into their room on Deckthree all right?
Ham: I’ve got this under control, Shem.
Shem: Dad really needs your help with the Elephants on Deck 3, Ham. Now.
Ham: You’re not the boss of me! I’m not you’re servant!
Shem: (under his breath) Yeah, not yet.
Ham: What did you say?
Shem: Just go!
Ham storms off in a huff.
Me: Look, I don’t know what kind of operation you’re running here but–
Shem: I am sorry for whatever misunderstanding there’s been, but this is not a Sensational Singles Cruise. This is the Ark. All of our pre-Flood material clearly lays out our admission policy: “Two of every sort … they shall be male and female … of every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind.”
Me: “… after their kind?!” “After their kind!” So you’re promoting anti-miscegenation policies now?!
Shem: I am going to have to ask you to step out of the line, Miss.
Couples walking two-by-two begin to crane their necks to see what the commotion is about.
Me: What are you staring at?! You don’t know me! You don’t know my situation!
Shem: Please lower your voice.
Me: Do you mean to tell me that everyone here has theirplus one partner? How can I be the only single person on this entire line?!
Shem: When you applied for your space on the Ark six days ago, you applied as part of a couple. If I do recall correctly you were accepted as one of a few multicultural couples along with your partner —
Me: Don’t say his name! We just broke up.
Shem: I’m sorry to hear that. You seemed so in love in your application.
Me: I know. Things had been tough for a while. And then between the rain and the end of the world … we just wanted totally different things.
Shem: You would have had beautiful children.
Me: That’s what everyone keeps telling me.
Shem: Well, I am sorry to hear about the breakup; however, The Ark is a privately owned and operated Biblical venture and as such we reserve the right to extend or deny admission as we see fit. Therefore …
Me: This whole thing was privately funded? Good God. How much did this whole thing cost?
Shem: I’m really not allowed to disclose investor information.
Me: What are the returns on this supposed to look like?
Shem: Well, our primary investor stands to gain quite a bit.
Me: What are we talking here — in the range of Miraculous?
Shem: He’s expected to emerge with a Monopoly.
Me: Over … ?
Me: Wow. And how did your family get involved?
Shem: He and my Dad went to school together.
Me: Of course. And post-flood reconstruction?
Shem: Well my Dad is already, like, 600 years old, so —
Me: Noah looks incredible for 600.
Shem: I know. After the Ham was born, he retired and got really into yoga. After this whole Ark thing he’ll only have another 300 to 350 years. But my brothers and I will take over for him. We’ve started this little venture capital company and hopefully that will really take off with all the post-Flood reconstruction that will have to be done. Ham wants to name the company Canaan. But I really like the name Halliburton. It has a nice multi-syllabic ring to it.
Me: So, there’s really no way for me to sneak on into an extra single cabin.
Shem: No. I’m sorry. Look, you’re a little crazy, but you could do well for yourself. Can I give you some advice? This rain is not letting up anytime soon. If I were you, I would quit being picky and just find a plus one — anyone.
Me: Yeah, I suppose. Thanks.
I wander off down the gangplank — both literally and existentially — alone.
Shem: Alright people! Have your tickets out! Two-by-two! Two-by-two!
Jana Sikdar likes it Biblical, but never forgets her fig leaves.