Wankmeister got a text message from New Girl, who had just checked in with Fussy, Blondie, Pilot, Canyon Bob, and Junkyard at Fess Parker’s Doubletree Resort in Santa Barbara. “We’re so excited about the Solvang Century tomorrow!” she texted. “Where are you staying?”
“Fess Parker’s was booked by the time I called,” Wanky replied. “That’s the place named after the movie star who played Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone, right?”
“It’s, like, swankville, right?”
“Well , the only place I could get was at Fess Haggen’s.”
“Fess Haggen’s? Never heard of it.”
“It’s a smallish place named after Festus Haggen, the illiterate, dirty, alcoholic deadbeat who played Matt Dillon’s deputy in Gunsmoke. They offered me their last room, out behind the dumpsters. I had to pass. So I’m flying in tomorrow with Wehrlissimo & Co.”
“The same guys you did Palm Springs with?”
“Same bunch of wankers.”
Culture and fitness, all rolled into one
Solvang, CA is the picturesque Danish town made famous by Lance Armtwister and the US Pestal Team when they won twelve consecutive Tours without ever doping. Remember when 190-lb. “Twiggy” Hincappy beat 115-lb. “Tubs” Pereiro on the 15th stage of the Tour in 2005, climbing 35,000 vertical miles over two hundred major Alpine passes? That was thanks to the hard efforts the team spent in their Solvang winter training camp, and neither he nor Armtwister ever tested positive, despite being the most-tested athletes in the history of athletedom.
Like any other ethnic “town” (think “Chinatown” in San Francisco, or “Little Tokyo” in LA, or New York’s “Little Italy,” or Houston’s “Cheap Hookers and Meth Village”) Solvang introduces people to Danish culture without the inconvenience and expense of having to actually learn Danish and go to the Faroe Islands to watch a baby dolphin slaughter.
“What’s this?!?” you say. “Danish people don’t slaughter baby dolphins! That’s Canadians. And they only slaughter baby seals. Danish people bake yummy butter cookies and have that precious statue of the Little Mermaid!”
Solvang does in fact promote the enticing aspects of Danish cuisine, and numerous places in town exist where you can enjoy a yummy frokost of pickled herring, smoked eel, fried onions, smoked herring with raw egg yolk and saltmeat. For middag you can look forward to more salted fish, boiled potatoes, cabbage, rødgrød, and an appetizer of hot porridge.
Yet, despite the great food, the high point of the town’s celebration of Danish culture remains the annual baby dolphin hunt, carried out in the guise of a century ride.
The baby dolphin round-up
As with the Faroese dolphin hunt, Solvang first attracts the baby dolphins with offers of great weather, beautiful scenery, a memorial patch, and lots of overpriced $5 beer with outrageously overpriced $20 barbecue in the sunshine. When the leathery whalers stepped off Wehrlissimo’s turboprop, “The Dolphin Slaughter Express,” and pedaled into Solvang from the Santa Ynez airpark, it was evident that the round-up had been a huge success.
Thousands of baby dolphins milled around the sign-in area, greedily looking through their goodie bags, happily taping their numbers to their handlebars, and proudly admiring the new “Solvang 2012” patch that they would never arrive home with to sew onto their jerseys. Some happily munched on the free nutty Clif bar that only cost $65, while others adjusted their tummies to rest comfortably on their top tubes. None was aware of the predators in their midst or the mayhem that would shortly ensue.
As the cold-eyed hunters from the South Bay hungrily gazed out at the roiling ocean of clueless cetaceans, some took the opportunity to sharpen their sóknaronguls, checking to make sure that the steel point of the gaff would sink quickly through the blubbery skin and into the brain of the prey. Given that their brains were tiny indeed, the hunters’ aim would have to be true. DJ, the Chief Hunter & Drunk, looked grimly at what would soon be a mass of lifeless corpses.
King Harald Bluetooth, slightly more humane, had opted to bring his blásturongul instead, preferring the blunt-edged gaff as an easier way to hook the unsuspecting baby dolphins by their blowholes, drag them to shore, beach them, cut their dorsal fins, and slice their spinal cords with an heirloom grindaknívur, handed down from father to son to bond the generations with the joyous, bloody murder of squeaking baby dolphins.
As the harpooners donned their own baby dolphin ID numbers, the better to blend with their victims, they noticed out in the parking lot a particularly plump batch of chubby little dolphin children. Clad in Long Beach Botulism Taco outfits, they huddled together, comparing swag sack goodies and admiring each others’ night-before boastful emails.
“Heh, heh,” squeaked one baby dolphin. “I told the South Bay fakers about my one-hour massage and carbo loading! Katy bar the door!”
“Ho, ho,” squeaked another, who had called in from Long Beach on his iPhone because he was too weak to make the swim. “I’ll post a funny blog afterwards when someone tells me about the ride I was too weak and craven to join!”
“Har, har,” squeaked the last, “they’re about to find out how the Long Beach baby dolphins ROLL!”
How the Long Beach baby dolphins roll
Under the guidance of their Chief Hunter & Drunk the whalers left the safety of Solvang Bay and headed out to open sea with the group of tubby Long Beach dolphins in tow. The hunters of steely mien included Wehrlissimo “Gorm the Old,” Major Bob “Sweyn Forkbeard,” King Harald Bluetooth, Li’l Douggie “Sigrid the Haughty,” Triple “Olaf Hunger,” Polly “Cnut the Great,” ProBoy Alex “Sigrid the Dainty,” and Cap’n Levi, “He Who None Shall Fuck With Ever.”
By mile four the rotating paceline of South Bay whalers had already hooked, beached, and severed the spinal cords of several thousand baby dolphins, most of whom were wobbling along in ill-defined schools led by someone wearing a jersey that said, “Winner–California Triple Crown of Cycling
By mile five the Long Beach cetaceans had already begun to swim in a panic mode, with Dr. Dave wildly squeaking out “Flat! Wheel! Mechanical!” The largest of the blubbery mammals, a juvenile female pilot whale named Martijn the Feeble, called the school to a halt while everyone gathered around the quivering Dr. Dave. No one was able to find a flat or any problem whatsoever, but he insisted. “The wheel was wobbling! I swear!”
Harald Bluetooth looked scornfully and said, “The wheel’s wobbling because your arms were shaking, dude. Okay let’s go. Just don’t get behind this baby dolphin on the downhill.”
The cold bite of the lance
At mile 37, one of the fattest baby dolphins, after taking numerous pulls, swung over to the side, his flippers quaking from the effort. “Thar she blows!” roared Gorm the Old as he took out his long harpoon and sent the steely blade of death piercing directly to the heart of the blubbery mammal. Gore coursed from his mouth, then from his eyes and nose as the helpless creature rolled over, white belly to the sun, jaws agape in the final shudder of death. No more to enjoy the depths of the ocean blue! No more to swim among the chubby schools of baby dolphins, spouting boastful emails! No more to carbo load the night before being driven onto the beach to be pitilessly slain by the tip of the harpooner’s lance!
By mile 40 practically the entire pod of Long Beach baby dolphins had had the sharp end of the gaff driven through their blowholes, with the exception of Martijn the Feeble, Ross the Tenacious, and Craig the Dubious, the latter two of whom were more swimming reptiles than fish. The entirety of the South Bay whaling contingent remained, save Cap’n Levi, who had stayed back to gut and strip the flesh from the fallen prey. At one point in the hunt King Harald Bluetooth dropped back to assist Gorm the Old, whose boat sprang a leak and needed a tow back up to the main fleet. Tube Top, one of the smaller hermaphroditic baby dolphins whose penis was not large or well formed enough to differentiate his genitalia from that of the females, made the fatal mistake of holding onto King Harald’s tow line even after Sigrid the Haughty had driven the tip of the harpoon deep into Tube Top’s innards, penetrating his uterus and coming out through his left flipper. As he sank beneath the foamy brine he was heard to cry, “Why am I so weak?”
Parasites of the deep
Though the Long Beach dolphins had for the most part been easily dispatched owing to the high concentrations of cadmium and mercury in their livers, a vile and thoroughly inedible group of Simple Green invertebrate suckerfish, along with a trio of Canyon Verde gasbag puffer minnows had latched onto the fast-traveling whaling vessel.
Although Martijn the Feeble tried to dislodge them with shouts of “Pull through, you pussies!” it became clear that you cannot appeal to the pride of parasitic life forms who have none. At this very moment a stiff sea breeze sprung up in the form of a howling crosswind, driving the frenzied fish into the troughs of the waves where they could easily be isolated and where the bloody point of death could easily be driven through their miniature brains. They were not seen again.
The hunters stopped at the halfway mark in Santa Maria to re-sharpen the gaffs, and a small contingent of mortally wounded baby LB’ers floundered in, trailing blood and entrails. They would expire shortly after the hunting resumed.
As the sailors left the harbor, it became apparent that many of the sturdy South Bay harpooners, tired after such a bloody and successful harvest, were less than eager to begin rowing again in earnest. Worse, the skulking and resilient female pilot whale, despite her sagging tummy and poorly attached feminine hygiene pads, was proving difficult to kill.
Wankmeister saw an opportunity, and easily rowed away, confident that Martijn the Feeble would never close the gap, especially since the remaining heroes were almost exclusively from the South Bay. For thirty miles he toiled, now alone, now rowing with other castaways, now joining a soon-to-be-wrecked armada.
Unfortunately, the unthinkable had occurred. The Chief Hunter & Drunk had made a pact with the devil and he, the Feeble one of the Sagging Paunch, Ross the Reptile, and the remaining whalers now joined forces to row down their valiant and heroic companion. As with most perfidious plans, this one caused terrible destruction within the South Bay contingent, as the catch came just before the Straits of Foxen.
Calamity in the deep
Although the baby dolphins had long ago been harpooned, skinned, doused with spit and piss, and consigned to ignominy, catastrophe now overtook the hunters, as one by one they dashed in their hulls and floundered in the pounding surf. Wankmeister rowed valiantly but to no avail as the Paunchy One, the Chief Drunk & Traitor, and ProBoy Backstabber made their escape.
Once through the straits, however, and despite the fatigue of his godlike 30-mile escape, WM overtook ProBoy and, rejoined by Harald Bluetooth, began a furious chase. But who of this world can run down the Chief Hunter & Drunk when he rows in anger knowing that beer is near at hand, even when he is dragging the useless and snot-encrusted baggage of the Feeble One?
Just as Wankmeister contemplated the futility of the chase, they hit the Foxen Shoals, a devastatingly rocky passage just beyond the straits. ProBoy leaped ahead followed by Harald, as WM was humiliatingly passed by a chubby husband and wife who had set out the night before and were wearing matching Google outfits.
Stung by the triple mortification of losing to the Feeble One, being dropped by ProBoy, and facing death at the hands of two baby Googlefish, WM nutted up, rejoined Bluetooth, then caught and shelled ProBoy, who now as punishment has to go race the Tour of India and the Criterium Nationale de Burundi.
King Harald Bluetooth, Wankmeister, and an Orange Zebra from San Clemente poured on the coal, coming to within 150 yards of the Chief Traitor and the She-whale, who were easily tracked by the trail of snot that the She-whale had left upon the billows. The chasers’ efforts came to naught. Once through the last reef, the Chief Traitor opened up a gap so huge and in the middle of such a vicious crosswind that the chasers simply gave up, beaten in spirit, exhausted of body, and wholly incapable of reeling in the dastardly duo.
Coming in some two minutes adrift with broken oars and tattered sails, the Traitor and the She-whale laughed in contempt. “You,” crowed the whale, “are WEAK!”
Truer words, on this day at least, were never spoken…at least by her.
**An alternative version of this epic slaughter of the weak, sick, and infirm, conjured up by a non-participating delusional Long Beach WNP (Wanker Nonpareil) is also available here. I deny everything.