Lawlor: Flat Stanley II: Death in the Everglades
A few weeks ago, I wrote about Flat Stanley. My sister, Ann, who teaches second grade in California, sent me this paper doll. I was to bring him around with me, and then send back photos so the second-graders learn what it’s like in the various parts of this giant blue marble that Flat Stanley visits.
I thought I did a good job. I took the responsibility very seriously. I sent my photographs back along with a story of everywhere we visited on my annual trip down the East Coast. My sister wanted even more, so I asked my teenage daughter to take Flat Stanley in her luggage on a Caribbean cruise.
I physically placed Flat Stanley in her luggage, kissed her goodbye, and then waited for the report. She took him to several tropical countries, but Flat Stanley never made it out of the side pocket of her luggage. My daughter agreed to take Flat Stanley out and show him the sights. She was traveling with another of my sisters (I have four).
Miami: nothing; Bahamas: all Flat Stanley saw was the toiletry bag; Jamaica: still nothing; Grand Cayman: same; Mexico: nada; Miami again: this time they found Flat Stanley at the bottom of the suitcase and I got three photos of Flat Stanley in their hotel room. It looked like a nice hotel room. Was that a kitchenette in the corner?
My daughter then had to return home to go back to school. She left Flat Stanley with my sister and niece who were staying longer in Florida. They were to take some pictures of Flat Stanley outside the hotel room. Maybe some of him in the lobby. What happened next was referred to by in the family as “Flat Stanley II: Death in the Everglades.”
It started out well. Flat Stanley was taken to a place where they wrestle alligators. I don’t know what to call such a place, or why it exists, but there is a place and my sister took Flat Stanley to it. The wrestler wrestled the alligator, and just like the Washington Generals — the team that plays the Harlem Globetrotters every night — the alligator never gets to win. The victorious wrestler then took a picture with Flat Stanley, and the conquered gator. The alligator looked kind of embarrassed he lost. It actually might have been a crocodile; I don’t know the difference and I don’t care.
Feeling guilty for keeping him in a suitcase while they globe-trotted, my niece took Flat Stanley out in a boat into that same Everglades area. Maybe one of the vanquished gators’ relatives stealthily sought vengeance and selectively pulled Flat Stanley out of the boat and down to the inky depths below. Or maybe my niece just dropped him. Either way, Flat Stanley never made it off the boat. We actually don’t know what happened to him. My niece had him at the beginning of the boat trip and he was gone at the end.
I had to call my sister in California, and before I could tell the story, she asked, “When are you sending Flat Stanley back? My kids are excited to see him.” Uhh... I guess the kids could learn about the ecosystem and how long it would take Flat Stanley to be digested by an alligator? I imagine not too long. I have seen videos on the internet.
I hung up the phone, and then my other daughter reminded me we had another Flat Stanley. We had made a color copy. But where was it? We finally located it in my mother-in-law’s glove compartment in her car. The only problem was her car was now on an island off the coast of Georgia. My daughter is flying down there this week (not just to get Flat Stanley. That would be stupid). Hopefully she will remember to get him out of the car and we can FedEx him back to California.
Next year if my sister asks, we are not taking him.
Thomas Lawlor lives in Southport with his wife and two daughters. His column appears every other Friday. He can be reached by email at Tlawlor@mcommunications .com.