Artwork by Ed Steckley
I just got back from a cartoon convention (the Reuben Awards) in Las Vegas. Every year cartoonists venture out from their studios to attend the Reubens, catch up with old buddies, and see who wins awards in various categories.
Cartoonists are kind of like Cicadas (Sih-CA-duhs), which are locust-looking bugs who spend seventeen years underground before emerging for a brief period to shed their skin and lay eggs. In fairness, most cartoonists don’t lay eggs, only shed their inhibitions, and creep out every twelve months. Nevertheless, there is a definite similarity in life styles.
Las Vegas has a life cycle of its own, come to think about it. When you first arrive, you are dazzled by the bright lights, the massive hotels, and the allure of a city that never sleeps. When you finally dive in, you are met by throngs of people, long hikes between hotels, and cigarette smoke.
By the time you leave, your breath smells like cigars, you have spent all your cash, your clothes are soiled, and you feel “funky.”
Funky is a term stolen from the common phrase “ship funk”, which is the smell everyone absorbs from spending half a year in close quarters on a ship.
So at the end of a Las Vegas trip you have ship funk, you are broke, your breath smells like cigars, and you are tired of having to deal with a bunch of people crammed into a small space. When you finally return home, you are happy and can’t get into the shower quick enough.
If that doesn’t describe deployment, I don’t know what does. If it looks like a duck, and – more importantly – smells like a duck, it is a duck. Therefore, vacation in Las Vegas is a deployment, except in this metaphorically rich case, the cruise only lasts three days, with a liberty party to beat the band.
After the passage of time the negatives begin to fade away, and you start to look forward to the next trip, wherever it is. Quite frankly, the final destination is irrelevant as long as you have a good time while you are there.
And if you’re lucky, you might even see some Cicadas.