If You Were Stranded On a Desert Island, and You Could Only Have…

If you were stranded on a desert island and could only play one favorite workplace lunchroom game…it would have to be the ol’ desert island scenario.

There you are, you poor bastard. You’re stranded on a very tiny desert island for what you can only assume is an indefinite amount of time. A few concessions are made by the universe toward your predicament: Apparently, you have at least a meager source of fresh water and food–enough to survive, even if you get the “coconut runs” daily. Sadly, though, it is presumed in most scenarios that you have no companionship.

Curiously enough, whatever crisis led to your surprise crash or abandonment on the little island, you are given some options–maybe by the grace of generous pirates? Well-connected mer-people? So, now is the time to choose. Your benevolent porpoise or pirate wench has given you but moments to decide the small comfort you may be afforded for your eternal, sandy sabbatical. I hope you have your answers ready to go. Wish-granting squids are notoriously impatient.

If you were stranded on a desert island, and you could only have…

Two Books

This is the standard smartass conundrum. Are you one of those insufferables who believes you are terribly clever in declaring that you would bring a guide to building boats? Or the longest book possible so the pages may act as kindling?

Piss off, if you are. That isn’t the exercise. The point is to decide what you read for your mind, spirit, and soul. And the merman will tell you so. Offend the merfolk and they’ll swim off and leave you with nothing, you wanker.

Trilogies, series, etc. are against the rules, mostly because the porpoises can only carry two books, and the pirates are far too drunk to retrieve more. You don’t get a little coconut library.

Here’s the the issue: It isn’t just about the title, but also the tone of which books you pick. For example, I’d be tempted to select some Poe short stories, a Stephen King novel, or Catcher in the Rye. But I have to be careful not to pick anything too damn depressing. The whole idea is to promote survival and sanity. I want to be removed to a happy place where I can remember the beauty of humanity and maintain my imagination.

So what would you pick? The Bible? A medical guide? Moby Dick? David Copperfield? Watership Down? Dune? The Hobbit? A comic book? A baby book? An autobiography? A diary–maybe an empty one (one of those from the stationary store that comes with a pen)?

Here are my picks:

  1. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

Since my own game rules won’t permit me to have the whole series, I will limit myself to just the first book. And even on its own, this book is worthy of one of my choices. It’s light, enchanting, and whimsical. It’s absolutely the perfect bit of fantasy to forget how much sand is in uncomfortable places.

     2. Daisy Fay and the Miracle Man by Fannie Flagg

Perhaps you can tell by these selections that I have a fondness for young, doe-eyed characters who face adversity but still have heart and imagination. I think facing down the prospect of rancid water, raw crab meat (okay, yum) and pouring rain storms, I might need a reminder of innocence, optimism, and imagination. And this book is like chicken noodle soup. If you haven’t read it yet, you must.

If you were stranded on a desert island, and you could only have…

Two Movies

Let’s say you have some sort of magical otherworldly device on which you can watch only two movies over and over to your heart’s content without charging or replacing batteries (I suppose it runs on dolphin magic or saltwater??).

Don’t you try and request a trilogy or miniseries, the grindylows will ensure that your single movie selections will have that squiggly snowy static affecting the picture and sound. And sometimes the vertical hold will go out. (If you’re too young to understand, trust me, that’s a very, very bad thing.)

Hmmm, by this point in my life, I’ve seen my absolute favorites so many times that I can practically play them in my mind. Or re-enact them with coconuts, rocks, and a few willing crabs. One can be the Dude, one can be Donnie, and one can be Walter. The carpet that really ties the room together is a palm mat I make during stage production time.

I also have this whole Ghostbusters skit worked out, for which I would need to do a lot of sand sculpting, especially for the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man.

So what would you pick? A superhero flick? The Godfather? Pretty in Pink? Shrek? Ben HurCastaway (you poor, sad bastard)? Die Hard?

Here’s what I would choose:

  1. The Big Chill

This is a very personal pick. First, though, I will say that it reminds me of humanity and the elasticity of the human spirit. Plus it’s funny and hopeful…but also a little sad. It hits all the notes. And it has wicked awesome Motown music, which is worth the price of admission alone. On a personal note, it also greatly reminds me of my beloved sister, and so it would keep me close to my lost family.

2.  Madagascar

Yes, this is an absolutely strange choice. With only two movies to choose, one had to make me think and remind me of human spirit and strength. The second one, however is…comfort food. Mac and cheese in movie form. And for me, this is it. This is a sentimental choice because of my now 10-year old daughter. When she was not quite two, she became very ill for about 48 hours. For that whole time, I held her on the couch. I held her while she slept, while she was sick, while she cried, and then while she slept again. And the whole time, the only comfort she had was watching three movies on a loop: Curious George, Finding Nemo, and Madagascar. Of those three, I have the greatest affection for the least recognized of them. It’s a silly but light movie that will always warm my heart, and no doubt, on that desert island, there will be days in which I need that mashed potato comfort.

If you were stranded on a desert island, and you could only have…

Two Songs

Just like in the “movie” scenario, the magical krill have given you a very special device that will play two songs, and only two songs, at your request. Your own little juke box that can serve no other task (cannot be broken or repurposed) than to play these two songs at your discretion. What are they?

What do you pick? Do you gor for length? Spirit? Which two songs can you listen to over, and over, and over again until the sounds of pirates vomiting rum sounds musical to your burned ears?

  1. “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” performed by the Beach Boys

Classic. Peppy. Sentimental. And it reminds me of my childhood a bit. Plus, it’s about love instead of despair. And there really is something to be said for the sounds of the Beach Boys staying with me during my isolation.

    2. “Ave Maria” performed by Barbara Bonney

Just to balance out the choices, it seems I need something contemplative, sweet, and slow. So many choices. But on a desert island where I’m going to need hope, or perhaps the ability to mourn, this seems like a beautiful, soulful choice. It came down to this and Elvis Presley’s rendition of Amazing Grace. Such a tough choice–Elvis’s tune had a choir of voices, which is sometimes just what a soul needs to hear when isolated. But, there is something so breathtaking about Bonney’s performance of Ave Maria, that I don’t know if I could sustain without it. Trust me, go find it on Amazon Music, and see if you don’t agree.

If you were stranded on a desert island, and you could only have…

Two Items

Remember that the premise is that you have at least a meager source of fresh water and sustainable food–although neither are very satisfying or fulfilling beyond the most basic sustenance. The magic dolphins pity you and grant you two items of your choosing.

Two items to help you preserve your sanity and/or health. No buildings, people, pets, livestock, or items that don’t really exist (ie teleporters), yada, yada, yada. Items, people. Items.

And just to clarify: If you request a cell phone or satellite phone, you can have one, but it won’t come with a battery (and any phone batteries you request will be stone-dead and caked in pirate vomit). Also you can’t have a boat/raft/airplane/jet ski, etc. Why? Because then you wouldn’t be stranded and you’re just negating the whole premise of the game.

Think of this like the show LOST: The island wants to keep you, so its local magical creatures won’t give you anything to facilitate an immediate, direct escape. At the very least you’re going to have to work really hard for it.

Would you pick a refrigerator, a tarp, a bed, a tent, soap, a magnifying glass, a water filter? Maybe sunscreen, deodorant, extra socks or shoes? A hat? How about a first aid kit, a good bottle of scotch, or a fishing pole? Here are my requests from the pirates:

What can I say? I know I’m going to get infections, because that’s how the universe and I roll. If it isn’t from cuts or insect bites, it’ll be because of a damn rotted tooth or sinus, or a UTI. Fuck, of course I’d get a UTI on day two on the desert island. I need me some good antibiotics. The only question is how much the pirates will grant me. I’m hoping for at least a keg full. Yes, a keg of broad-spectrum antibiotics.

Call me a pragmatist, but I’ll need something sharp to chop plants and animals to little bits. I think this is pretty straight forward. This way I can weave and construct my own shelter and shoes, and maybe even a good fish trap…thing.

If you were stranded on a desert island, and you could only have…

Two Foods

A magical prawn shows up and says that you can have two different food items appear at will in a nearby cave on the island. Let us presume that the food is freshly, wonderfully prepared, but you get no utensils, extra side condiments, or beverages (or sides or desserts, you greedy bastard!). Which two shall you order?

Turkey Club Sandwich and Peanut Butter Sandwich

Two sandwiches? Am I insane? Well, yes. Here I am talking to a magical prawn requesting food where I have no right to hope for anything. But moreover, both choices are about flavor, nutrition, and practicality.

The turkey club sandwich is really the lynchpin. It has protein from the turkey, tomatoes for vitamins that can help fight off things like scurvy, and mayo/cheese for the rickets. That’s a modest meal that packs a lot of energy. Plus…I can pull it apart to enjoy its bits separately as preferred. Bacon for breakfast? Fry up those tomatoes in some fish fat? Sure! Use some turkey for fishing bait? Okay, maybe that won’t work. But maybe it will. The fish are not getting my bacon.

And the peanut butter sandwich, is because I would desperately want something sweet. It’s hard not to demand chocolate of any kind, but this is more sensible. Peanut butter has protein and works well at any time of day. It can also stifle the flavor of other unappetizing foraged elements from my island, and blends decently with coconut. Sort of. I wonder how well peanut butter goes with crabmeat? Probably not, right?

Be sure to let me know what you would pick. Keep to the rules and the Kraken of Wishes won’t gobble you up for your insolence!


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