PALAU, Micronesia Eight divers or so load onto the Carp Island Resort launch. I am the only one who doesn't speak Japanese; I smile and nod a lot, inadequately.
Rainclouds loom, so I accept a yellow slicker. I'm from the Pacific Northwest. Of course I have serious rain gear. Can I use more in typhoony weather? Always. Plus, I live in the land of geek chic and haute polarfleece: looking nerdy is the norm... My companions aren't so convinced. Who can blame 'em? The thermometer's hovering around 80 degrees.
Except wind-chill soon slices away any comfort, even of the cold variety. Once the rain starts, it hoses sideways, thanks to the speed of the twin engines. That's when I notice the girl in hotpants. She hunches, early-stage hypothermic, trying to stretch a Baby-T over her knees and an expensive SLR camera, sans waterproof case.
Yeah, I give her the slicker. Show me the jerk who wouldn't? Then I help tuck in all her gear, which is big fun in carwash-style conditions.
"Domo arigato," she raps through castanet teeth.
And, for the first of a thousand times, I mentally append, "Mr Roboto," just like the ole STYX song. This soon proves to be real diplomacy challenge, as I have to suppress insipid giggles any time I'm thanked. And since most of Carp's clientele are Japanese, quite a lot of thanking goes down.
Good thing I hadn't yet seen this rock video, where the badbot smokes a cigarette after stomping a sandcastle. My hysteria might have sparked an international incident...