From my work on The Journist!
I was swimming up 6th Ave. today to go get a Times when I was all, "Brr, that water's COLD today!" So I swam home and grabbed my overcoat and some leg warmers, did a perfect 2½ somersault pike from the fire escape and swam back to the deli to grab my Times and thought about getting a scone but I was all out of this, like, REALLY bangin' seedless raspberry jam made by monks or something—regardless—I honestly don't think I can EVER eat a scone without that fabulous jam again that's how good it is (not kidding). But if I got the scone then I'd have to swim to the Whole Foods over on Bowery (the only place that carries the monk jam) and I already had coffee brewing at the house an—WHERE THE FUCK DID ALL THIS WATER COME FROM??? WHY AM I SWIMMING??? WHERE ARE MY PANTS???
I started treading water like I was taught when I was in swim lessons last year and looked at the cover of the Times and right there in that really big font headline that I could barely read because it was dripping wet was the answer to all my questions (except the one about my pants) it read (this might not be verbatim, my memory's a little shoddy), "Remember That Ice Cap on Top on World? Yeah, It Half Gone." What? I shouted to the guy trying to tag the ice floe drifting past Bleecker but it melted before he could finish spraypainting something about... your mother liking it. But where she likes it and how, well, I guess I'd have to figure that out myself.
I called my friend's at the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado because "I need answers, DAMMIT!" (Oh, yeah, at this point in the story I am back home at my desk where I have a land-line and a special spot on my desk where I bang my fist and say things followed by "DAMMIT!" (which for some reason I also learned in swim lessons last year))
They told me that as of this past Sunday the Arctic ice cap measured 1.32 million square miles, which is 18% smaller than the previous smallest measure which was made back in 2007 of 1.61 million square miles.
I banged my fist on the desk again, "DAMMIT," then I put my head down on it, exasperated (this has morphed from some sci-fi comedy thing and now it is apparently a black and white crime noir... just go with me, okay?) where was I... oh yeah! "DAMMIT!" exasperated by the news and with my head on the desk I did the only thing I could ever do in this situation: I reached for my flask of grape juice in the bottom drawer and took a nice big pull and I sound like Batman, did I mention that yet? So, yeah, in my Batman voice I said, "Well you know so damn much, tell me, what the Hell does this mean? Also, is that place you work real? The Snow and Ice Data Thinger? Is this where all my damn tax money is going? So you guys can get the world's largest tape measure and run around the Goddamn North Pole while I backstroke for seedless jellies... IS IT?"
Data Center scientist Walt Meier replied (rather calmly I might add, note to self, put Meier on suspect list) that ice in the Arctic "essentially acts like an air conditioner by keeping things cooler, and when sea ice melts more, it's like the air conditioner isn't running efficiently."
I said, "Sounds plausible Meier but let me ask you this... where do you guys keep the giant tape measure, HUH??? WHERE IS IT!?! I WANT ANSWERS DAMMIT!" He said, "Sea ice reflects more than 90 percent of the sun's heat off the Earth, but when it is replaced by the darker open ocean, more than half of the heat is absorbed into the water."
I slammed the phone down on the receiver but that just didn't seem like enough for some reason so I leaned back in my chair and kicked it off the desk. I never liked that phone anyway.
I lit a cigarette and then put it out because it tasted icky. Maybe the grape juice was getting to me or maybe things just weren't adding up, but one thing was for sure, I'm out of jam and if things keep going like this I'm gonna be swimming to the Whole Foods for a long time.
I called Meier back. "Is it real... I mean... how long do we have?" I took another big pull of grape juice and felt the first tear I'd cried in over 20 years run down my face, hot and uncomfortable like wearing the same bathing suit all summer, the lining chafing you with the hard, chemically-scarred fabric from millions of milliliters of chlorine and the built up crotch sweat from standing on the hot concrete around the pool wondering if you'll ever be promoted from Guppy to Flying Fish. "What is it, Meier??? DAMMIT!"
He said, "The computer models show an Arctic that would be essentially free of ice in the summer of 2050..." and fell silent.
I unholstered my Super-Soaker and hung it on the coat rack. I knew it'd be here but I didn't think it would be this soon... it was time to go practice my dolphin kick.