My name is Farglivrt. I come from far away up North, from a poor town called Skmjy. I know it is hard to pronounce. About the same time as I left, everyone had managed to save up a few jkls to purchase a vowel. The elders seemed to favor an i; and, the nomadic Viking wordsmiths were running a huge sale, in honor of the Year of Scrbbl. There was not much manufacturing, or even cottage industry going on. The whole day was consumed with ice-related events. To our credit, whatever monotonous chore we did, we added the word “festival” to. We chopped ice all day, in hopes the herring would get curious and pop their little fish snouts out for a breath of frigid air. If we were in a meat mood, we would line up hand-crafted coat racks on a hill and hope it was mating season for reindeer, caribou and huge-horned moose. At night, the whole town would gather around a fire and watch the spectacular light show in the sky. The elders call it, Aurora Borealis, named after a Viking Deity, who comes to watch over us from the black, velvet sky. She never fails to delight us, with colors we have never even seen before; the stars seem to radiate heat; they dance to strains of music provided by winged Angels, though the acoustics sometimes suck.
A day after, I thought I saw a shimmering form coming toward our village. It tried to be horizontal, than vertical. So was the other animal, beside it. Finally, both of them rolled like a pickling barrel, until they crashed into a fir tree. The dark-skinned man-like human tried to rise and stay erect; his arms flailed widely. He pointed to the animal that remained shivering on the icy floor. He spoke and introduced himself as Uri, and he came from a land that was burning hot! He pointed to the sky and explained about the fiery ball that rose in the morning, and another ball that appeared at night. He filled my head with many different, strange visions; albeit, he was not bad to look at, either. I lifted my melanin-challenged hand to touch the black hair that surrounded his face. It pleased me, and sent dorkleberry bumps up my arm. I hesitantly asked, “Do you have herring where you come from?
Uri scratched his beard and thought. “Yes.”
And so, Avigail, I swept out my igloo once more, and checked that the ice walls were not on defrost, and left. Once we got out of my neighborhood, and into his, I realized I made a mistake. My platinum-blonde hair was turning a dull flaxen, fast. My albino retinas were getting sunburned. I felt myself aging; my freckles were turning into age spots. Oh my Thor!!!
When we arrived at his sun-baked lentil tent, I went in. A musty odor immediately overwhelmed me; it was as if I entered the Viking Public School’s gym locker area! I demanded to know, with the grace of a white-tailed gazelle, WHERE’S THE HERRING? He smiled and walked over to something in a corner, swathed in layers of white embalming cotton…”Mummy,” he said softly. He then removed something from her finger and triumphantly presented it to me. “Her ring.” With that, I reached into my meager possessions and pulled out my Viking High Varsity Hockey Stick and scored one for the home team.
Avigail, I must turn to you for advice. I am alone, now…I did see a wandering Phoenician and asked him if he would give me a lift home; he must have a boat. My luck, he’s a Phoenician blind!!! I have Uri’s mother’s ring to barter, but I don’t see anyone around here…..Can you help?
Farglivrt, the Viking Sherpette
Your situation sounds desperate, but first calm down and let me give you some advice. My sister, Shterna, always walks around the camp with, what is known as, an “angebisse”* a sour puss. In her mind, she is always complaining to Our Creator, what is wrong with her life, what she doesn’t have, what Tillie Rosenberg has and why not her?…This is her daily custom, and her inner thoughts are spoken in an annoying Jersey accent that is hard on the ears, even to G-d’s. All of a sudden, Shterna feels something land on her shoulders. She looks up at a hovering crow that has just pooed on her new leather winter toga (trust me; she did NOT buy off the rack!) At first, she is outraged; then, she starts to laugh and realizes G-d’s intended message. She says out loud, “Thank the Lord Dinosaurs Don’t Fly!!!” So, Farglivrt, things can always be worse.
NO, you are NOT imagining that the hot climate here encourages aging. But first, Uri was not entirely wrong. He thought you had said, “her ring”, instead of “herring.” I myself told my sister, Shterna, to meet me at the well; she thought I said, “Shterna, go to hell!” She didn’t talk to me, until the public stoning of the pork jerky trader.
But, because the harsh climate accelerates the aging process, we take extreme precautions with our skin.
I knew I was prematurely aging when I winked at my little boy, and my eye remained shut. So, instead of moisturizer, I began to shellac my face. Nothing’s going in my pores; nothing’s going out, either. There are no emotion options either. You have to decide what you want to emote – happy, disproving, sad, neutral-overall grimace…
As long as you have a sense of humor, you can make aging work for you!!! Last holiday season, commemorating a near annihilation, by one disgruntled tribe, or another, we held a huge feast and brought in a name act….THE VERICOSE VIXEN* She was so hysterical; my hiatus hernia took leave of my body. She traveled without any bags on her camel caravan; the ones under her eyes sufficed. Would you believe Micki isn’t a day over thirty-one!!!!
So Farglivrtele, don’t resist, but embrace your new sauna-like surroundings. If you hear a crack in your rotator cuff while in mid-hug, don’t stress yourself – I have a remedy for that, too. Come over to my tea; I have someone to introduce you to. His name is Ben Gay.
All the best,
*angebisse: Yiddish for sourpuss
*The Vericose Vixen: Octogenarian comedienne Micki Shallen, who hails from Bergen County, N.J.
*farglivert: Yiddish word for frozen