Two Hungry Women
by Greg Blanchette, Tofino
Sheophagee an' stassis's," Mocamp says with a mouth crammed full of blackberries. She chews and swallows, flips over the omelette, and curses. "Ah shoot, it broke up."
"Broke up," repeats Fresh, and for a sec it looks like she's going to cry into the nectarines.
"Oops, sor-r-ry," says Mocamp, reassembling the egg concoction in the pan with her spatula. "Didn't mean anything by it." But Fresh has brightened already, cutting fruit determinedly.
"Geography and statistics," Mocamp says again. "I've given it some thought, and that's why we're standing here alone this morning."
Fresh starts in on the kiwis, knowing Mo needs no prodding to expound on her theory.
"First off, the landscape," Mocamp says, "the geography: all that undisturbed natural beauty is a powerful attractant for women with a certain, let's call it a 'streak of poetry,' in their soul. It's an intuitive thing. They come to Tofino to visit and they feel at home here, they love it. They want to be part of something beautiful and timeless, to just walk out and gaze at it, to feed it and feed off it, you know, like ... what's the word? ... symbiosis." She's waving the spatula around like a short, stocky symphony conductor.
"So they up and move here -- at least the brave ones do -- because of the geography. Then, being the resourceful creatures we are, we find support jobs that allow us to stay: office workers, artists, bookkeepers, bottom-of-the-barrel retail. We do what we have to to survive, because we want to be part of the Clayoquot Sound landscape."
Fresh slices bananas into the big glass bowl. "Makes sense so far," she says. "But doesn't the same thing happen for the male of the species?"
"Ah, the men," says Mocamp, "the men. You want yours with cheese?" She sprinkles grated organic cheddar over the omelette and puts a lid on the pan. "The men are more complicated. They come for the geography too, but in a different way. What attracts them is not beauty or presence, it's what they can do with the land -- or what it can do for them, more like. I figure, statistically speaking, we get three classes of men in Clayoquot Sound: the exploiters -- here for the landscape, but they want to make money off it. That'd be the loggers, the fish farmers, the developers and builders. Then there are the drifters -- the guys who've been moving down the road for years until they finally end up here, with no more road to move on down. Still geography, see?"
Fresh nods, filling two plastic wine glasses with champagne. "And the third?"
Mocamp's whole face, even her trademark dreadlocks, seems to turn to a frown. "That would be the users," she says. "Also here for the landscape, but not to be a part of it so much as to consume it, to feed their own particular obsessions. Such as, for example ..." -- she hacks the omelette in half and slaps the parts onto two plates -- "... the archetypal surfer dude."
"Ooh, do I detect a note of bitterness?" Fresh jokes, thinking of Mocamp's handsome, very recent ex -- the break-up that no doubt hatched this entire theory. "I mean, it's embarrassing to admit, but the reason half the women come out here is probably that whole surfer-dude thing, at least subliminally. The sun-bleached hair, the rippling abs, the torrid beach romance...."
"Look who's talking," Mocamp says, a little touchy. "You're the one who was head over heels, what, two weeks ago."
"Yeah," Fresh admits sheepishly, "I guess I was kind of majorly obsessed...." She lays out placemats and pulls the curtains back and the Brown's Passage sunlight sparkles in her straight blonde hair.
"A geoduck diver," Mocamp says, rolling her eyes. "What were you thinking? It's common knowledge those guys drink their faces off every day without an R in it." Mocamp stacks toast on a warm plate and puts it on the table.
Fresh, dribbling vanilla and champagne into the fruit salad, won't reopen that unhealed wound. "So that's the disconnect, you figure?" she says. "Women here to love the land, men here to use it? Hence the low probability of romantic compatibility? That explains the eternal Tofino Mars-and-Venus thing?"
Mocamp raises her eyebrows as if to say You got a
better theory? She plunks the omelettes on the table and looks straight at Fresh. "Girl, how many unattached women you know in this town, present company included?"
Fresh sighs and pours the orange juice. "Wish I'd known it before I moved here," she says. "The so-called 'pool' of eligible bachelors in Tofino is ..." -- she makes a ring with her thumbs and index fingers -- "... more the size of a margarine tub."
Out the window, a ragged curtain of Sunday morning mist hangs against the hills as the women sit down. "Oops," Fresh says, "forgot the forks and spoons." She makes to get up again, then stops. "Know what?" she says, mischief in her eye. "Let's just eat with our fingers." She plunges a hand into the fruit salad, scooping up a fistful and mashing it into her mouth. Mocamp dives right in too, and soon there's a mess on the table, and then a wave of giggling erupts as the pair lifts a toast to friendship in the Town of Hungry Women.
Greg Blanchette is watching the coast from far, far away, from which vantage things mysteriously seem clearer. He can be chastised at firstname.lastname@example.org, and his travel blog is at aimless1.wordpress.com.