5 out of 5 hotmesstinis
You will not predict how this story ends
It’s 2:00 a.m. on New Year’s Day 2018 in Swakopmund, Namibia, the West Coast city four hours from the capital, Windhoek. A hot mess nearing a champagne blackout (me, that’s right, you called it) is on a beach with her friend who is upset.
I'm bad at consoling people, but I wanted to make her feel better, so I went with the distraction method. I had limited props on this beach to distract, and there was literally not a soul around anywhere, so the thing that I then did was get stark naked and start screaming things like "We're in Africa! Life is amazing! Let's get in the ocean!"
I discarded my black maxidress and ran into the calm ocean. Too bad I’m so pale and my skin is basically reflectors so “cover of darkness” only half works.
But, that went on for a while and then maybe the waves sobered me up because I realized “I’m drunk in an ocean in an unfamiliar place - so maybe there’s another thing to do.”
I went to find my maxidress and it was just so pitch black on the beach below the jetty (and I didn’t have my contacts in) so I could barely see anything but outlines and shadows of slightly darker sand color against normal sand color.
Then this happened:
I walk around searching for a black patch of sand to indicate that I found my dress pile. Thank goodness I had worn a black dress because I would have had to walk back to the hotel naked had it been a lighter color. Finally, I see a slightly blacker spot of sand right in the middle of the beach where I left it. Black spot = black dress. I bent down to pick it up, open palm... and my hand hits something. Only, it's not soft, dry, and cottony. Weirdly enough, because I was reaching overhanded, and the object was closer than I thought, I hit it before my brain thought I would in the darkness. The impact made a *slap*.
Dresses don't make slap sounds.
I felt more sober immediately realizing that what I slapped - well...
It was cold and it was clammy. Worst of all, it was WET. I’ll just say it, it felt like a DEAD ASS BODY.
I’m just going to pause to let what unfolded sink in. Take five and come back.
Now that you're back
So, obviously I FREAKED OUT (only appropriate reaction by the way) and scrambled, found my actual dress (touching down much more carefully on this second attempt) and put it on. I had alarmed my friend (probably by screaming "AHH WHAT THE FUCK DID I JUST TOUCH") who turned her phone flashlight on, and we went started walking over to look at whatever the fuck cold mushy thing I had just smacked on a beach in this sparsely populated country.
I mean - if this was a dead body WHAT would I do? Do you call the authorities? Is that number 911 in Namibia (probably no)? Will they ask me if I slapped it because how do I explain that? Why do I still feel it on my hands ARRGGG ughhh ewww - I feel the deadness on my hands ahhh it lingers. I rinsed those nasty dead body hands in the ocean bahh. Am I so drunk help.
Side note: How is this the first night of vacation!!!
Finally, we turn the flashlight in the direction of the potentially dead carcass I slapped:
“It’s a fucking penguin!”
One of us screamed this (not sure). So at this point, I had slapped a dead fucking penguin on a beach. Who does that!? How was this my first night in Africa? Why was there a muthatruckin' penguin carcass on a beach in Namibia? I mean I know there are penguins in South Africa. Maybe it’s one of those? You're a long way from home dead buddy! Unless, maybe Namibia has penguins?
It was one of those rare moments where there are no way to know how to behave. Only jaw-dropping confusion. The alcohol, the slap, the penguin. This was Twilight Zone status.
THEN, we could see from the residual light that there was actually ANOTHER dead carcass about ten feet away. TWO! Fucking Poltergeist movie finale penguins up on this beach with all these dead bodies. The other one STUNK. Glad I at least slapped the scentless one. Now let’s get our drunk asses outta here before we find more dead freaking mammals. I can still feel it on my hands!
I was this lady in the Stepbrothers scene who says "I've seen too many dead bodies."
But seriously, I’m so glad I didn’t slap the rotting one.
We walked back to the hotel rapidly - I was keeping my arm extended with the hand of dead penguin far away from me. In my other hand I was casually sending my boyfriend drunk-person texts left and right. Back in the USA he was receiving messages like:
“Something horrible has happened to me!! Call me!!!!” (He couldn’t, my phone didn’t work for calls in Africa.)
“I need you! This is the worst night I can imagine!!!”
Also, just snapchats of my horrified face. You, the audience know that I was obviously fine but I didn’t have cell reception to tell him that for another 24 hours, so, he was slightly mad that he thought I potentially had some much worse experience happen.
Drunk me didn't think that through.
And, yeah, that’s pretty much the story of the night I slapped a dead penguin.
...or so I thought.
But..WAIT! One more twist.
We recounted this story a few times a week or so later when we met up with a bigger group of friends. (I was traumatized and couldn’t stop talking about it and still can't.) Then, during one particular retelling, the friend I was with that night realized she took a picture of it on the beach with flash!” A-ha! New evidence was available for verification of our insane story!
Sure enough, there was a picture of a dark outline against a sandy beach from early that New Year’s morning. And even weirder, is that it was not a penguin. I mean it really, really obviously wasn’t.
Imagine the exact shape of a seal with no ambiguity.
That’s how it was shaped.
In fairness, I think blindly slapping a dead penguin would feel a lot like slapping a dead seal did.
In fact, it was a small seal - a baby seal if you will. So, I slapped a dead BABY seal. I never thought I’d ever use the phrase “I slapped a dead baby seal” but here I am. ARE YOU PROUD OF ME MOM.
Things like this is where the phrase "never say never" came from.
Hot Mess Tips
Just don’t get drunk and naked on a beach in the middle of the night.
Apparently dead seals wash up on Namibian beaches so I guess if that comes up in trivia.
After making what I thought was a softball New Year’s resolution (“just don’t slap a dead baby seal”) I broke it within hours of 2018. New Year’s resolutions are always so unrealistic.