When I finished a package of blueberries some years ago, I found a message written on the bottom of the carton: “If you’re a good looking girl living anywhere near Holland, Michigan, call Joe at (phone number).” Well, I obviously didn’t qualify in any category, so I didn’t call Joe. That was a long time ago, but I expect Joe put that message in many cartons and hope he got a call from a sweetheart who turned out to be his wife and they’ve lived happily ever after.
What brought Joe to mind is a news report that a message in a bottle sent 28 years ago from Nova Scotia, Canada, had washed up on shore, half a world away in Croatia. The message, wrapped in plastic, was: “Mary, you really are a great person. I hope we can keep in correspondence. I said I would write. Your friend always, Jonathan, Nova Scotia, 1985.”
That message in a bottle raises so many questions. The first one is how the heck did it get from Nova Scotia to Croatia? If it had gone straight across the Atlantic, it would have landed in France. Instead, it crossed southeasterly, bobbed through the 22 mile gap between Gibraltar and Morocco, drifted east, around the tip of Italy, then turned north, up the Adriatic Sea to Croatia, about 3,700 miles from where it started.
The second question is what was going on in Canada in 1985? Justin Bieber was yet to be born for nine more years in London, Ontario; Michael J. Fox, from Edmonton, was just a 24-year-old getting started in the acting business; K.D. Lang from Edmonton, Alberta, was an unknown singer of the same age; Pam Anderson was just another flat chested teenage school girl in Ladysmith, British Columbia who hadn’t yet discovered the magic of silicone. The only recognizable name at that time was the wonderful Canadian songbird, Anne Murray from Springhill, Nova Scotia who had just recorded the hit, “Just Another Woman In Love.” Jonathan should have paid attention to Anne Murray’s songs to learn something about how girls think. The 1988 Winter Olympics hadn’t been held in Calgary and the 2010 Winter Olympics hadn’t even been imagined yet. It’s no wonder Jonathan got bored and sent out his desperate message.
What did Jonathan expect anyway? Calling a girl a “great person” is hardly a romantic message. “Your friend always” doesn’t make her heart pitter patter either. Was the word love in his vocabulary? Mary would have been more excited to get a message in a blueberry carton from Joe in Holland, Michigan. Jonathan strikes me as the kind of guy who would send a girl a 10 pound lug of moose jerky on Valentine’s Day and expect her to be thrilled. I have the feeling Mary actually got the message in the bottle, rolling her eyes, said “whatever” and threw it back in the ocean. Then she went out, discovered a guy with real passion and is now living in Montreal, married for 25 years, mother of three children, practicing dentistry and is volunteering evenings as a girls hockey coach.
Jonathan the dreamer, however, sat on the coast for the longest time hoping he could “keep in correspondence” with Mary. Duh. Eventually, the Canadian winter drove him back to his trapper’s cabin. He spent his days trapping beaver, muskrat, and otter and his nights, alone, wondering why Mary, that great person, never returned his correspondence. The years went by, 28 of them, and Jonathan eventually became what he was always destined to be, a Royal Canadian Hucky Puck.
If only the email had been invented in 1985.