In the Middle of an Island, In the Middle of an Ocean…

Earlier this year, scientists said they were almost certain that bones found on a Pacific island in 1940 were those of aviatrix Amelia Earhart, who disappeared in 1937 while attempting to circumnavigate the globe. Mirriam-Webster.com immediately had so much traffic that it crashed for lack of librarians to man the dictionary. People wanted to know what “circumnavigate” meant.

There are, of course, other hypotheses as to what happened to Amelia Earhart. (There are alternate hypotheses for everything anymore.) One of my favorites is the following.

For many years some of the most famous, controversial, and, at times, criminal Americans have been approached by a mysterious man in white. This fellow Roarke asks the person if he/she has had enough. “Enough what?” each person asks.

Roarke walks away but returns to confront the person a few days later. By then the man or woman knows what Roarke is talking about. If the person is famous, “enough” is the hassle of constantly being in the spotlight. If the person is controversial, “enough” consists of constant attacks by individuals and the media. If the person is criminal, “enough” is a growing weariness with trying to elude capture.

So, one day in 1937 Amelia Earhart and her flying companion, Fred Noonan, were in a panic. Blown off course in their quest to cross the Pacific, their plane was flying on fumes with no landing strip in sight, only ocean. Suddenly, Roarke came up the aisle of the aircraft from behind the two, stuck his head between them, and said, “Have you had enough?”

Assuming “enough” meant plenty of the threat of approaching death, they both said, “Yes!” (It’s interesting that neither asked “Where did you come from?” or “How did you get on board?” I’d guess it was the sense of urgency that helped them understand the question.)

“Then turn due north, and I’ll have you down safely in a jif.”

Upon debarking the plane, Earhart and Noonan walked into a lavish reception where they met Billy the Kid, Butch Cassidy, the Sundance Kid, Jimmy Hoffa, D.B. Cooper, Tony Soprano, and members of the Lost Roanoke Colony. (Time doesn’t really come into play on this island. It mostly stands still.)

Most of the residents had to pay Roarke a considerable sum to live on the island, but not Amelia Earhart. She was going to have to work to live there. Roarke needed a more enticing way of getting people from the U.S.A. to the island than paddling a canoe all the way from Los Angeles. Would Amelia consent to live on the island and fly newcomers in from the mainland?

As at least one other hypothesis about her disappearance maintains, Amelia was tired of the hassle occasioned by her fame. Plus, given that time doesn’t work on the island like it does elsewhere, Roarke had a supply of modern planes that far surpassed Amelia’s Lockheed 10-E Electra. She could fly her choice to pick up passengers. “Yes! I’ll work for you!”

Some people wonder how Roarke came to have modern airplanes on the island when no one other than Amelia Earhart has a pilot’s license. Well, Jimmy Hoffa and Tony Soprano may be living on an uncharted Pacific island, but they still have connections. It’s easy – load a plane on a truck, then load it on a boat, then drop it off at the island. Pay all involved to keep their mouths shut.

Amelia, like the others, does not age so long as she’s on the island. It’s only when she’s flying to pick up a passenger that she gets a new wrinkle. (From whence we get the movie, A Wrinkle in Time.) Still, she hardly looks 40-years old. And she loves to hear Fred Noonan say from the control tower as she approaches the runway, “De plane! De plane!”

Of all the hypotheses regarding Amelia’s disappearance, the above is known, obviously, as the “Fantasy Island Hypothesis.”  I can’t wait for the movie!

 

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