Identifying the wood boat person

Midwinter 2004

By Dodge Morgan

Human beings can be classified into just two major species and two sub-species of the one primary species. The two major species are “Boat Persons” and “Non-Boat Persons.” The primary species “Boat Persons” holds two categories, “Wood Boat Persons,” defined as those with boats made from trees, and “Other Than Wood Boat Persons,” defined as those with boats made from sand and petroleum. For purposes of this academic exercise, we will prioritize and simplify all human classifications under just two categories, “Wood Boat Persons” and “All Others.”

Now we need to determine just how to identify Wood Boat Persons from All Others and this is much easier than it may seem.

Physical Identification: Wood Boat Person will be noted for unusual posture characteristics, strange appendages and signal skin conditions. Wood Boat Person will have a pronounced back hump, almost a hunch, a leg length differential and a special hand configuration. The hump is not hereditary but environmental as wooden boats go back 2,000 or more years, when all people were shorter yet wood boat construction people never figured this fact out so modern Wood Boat Persons must stoop when below decks.

The shorter leg syndrome is most interesting because Wood Boat Persons can shift it from left to right and back on command by sailing tack. Hand configuration is also environmentally driven from 2,000 years of large, dull tool use. Fingers are not unlike a bunch of bruised bananas and fingernails end well inside finger flesh. Skin surface, no matter the original color, is best called dappled, the prevalent dapple color being that of bottom paint with the happy result that those ugly, brown age spots of Other Persons are effectively camouflaged on Wood Boat Persons.

Language Identification: Wood Boat Persons are extraordinarily taciturn. This comes from 2,000 years of not hearing anything but the ambient noises of wailing wind, crashing waves, tackle-block screams and mast-hoop rattles. The Wood Boat Person will, however, talk to self at a high volume level (see hearing above) and in a most sparse vocabulary prevailing with words such as “Oops” and “Egad.”

Mood Identification: The mood adjustment additives employed by Wood Boat Persons (preference for rum) are similar to those of Other Persons in terms of quantity except they tend to consume their intoxications all at once rather than applying the more common habit of a little bit each day. This peak performance mood adjustment commitment makes them glum most of the time (note prevailing vocabulary words above). But the glumness is punctuated by short periods of an astounding euphoria concluding with a delightfully contagious sense of humor.

Human Senses Identification: The only one of the five human senses effectively practiced by Wood Boat Persons is the sense of smell. Sight has been obliterated by 2,000 years in the fog, hearing seriously attenuated by (refer to Language Identification above), taste by living amongst sea gulls, touch by (see hand and leg configurations above). One will note, however, that Wood Boat Persons do not choose to smell materially as do Other Persons. Where you might see Other Person sniffing at a little bottle or the waft of a clay pipe or their own armpit, Wood Boat Person will commonly be observed holding a ball of brown yarn under nose and referring to it as “marlin.”

This original research has not been entered into the Library of Congress.

Dodge Morgan broke all sorts of records when he single-handed American Promise around the world without stopping in 1985 and ’86. He lives on Snow Island in Harpswell, Maine.