In a ceremony of almost religious proportion yesterday morning, Richard Koster of the Latin American (nee Canal Zone) Delegation to the Democratic National Convention opened a vial of water from the Panama Canal and poured it into a crystal bowl containing pea soup, which was alleged to be water from Brooklyn's Gowanus Canal.
It was symbolic mingling of the sister canals, capping a heady New York breakfast of bagels and Panama Canal lox attended by the Guam, Latin American (nee Canal Zone) and Americans Abroad delegates, as well as an NBC camera crew, 16 photographers, 22 scribes of the free press (no doubt after a free breakfast), a famous novelist and former New York mayor Robert Wagner, who agreed that not only were there fewer potholes during his administration, "but it was also never this hot when I ran the city."
Thank you, your honor.
A woman from Guam said she had never before seen a bagel, let alone lox or cream cheese.
A man from Guam asked for an ashtray, and instead was handed a bowl of peanuts by the famous novelist. He declined the offer, expressing an interest only in macadamia nuts. And the famous novelist recoiled into the fetal position, fearing that she had threatened Guam-U.S. relations for decades to come.
She was unaware that when the people of Guam had come to New York for the 1976 convention, the entire delegation had gotten stuck in an elevator for over an hour and, as one journalist pointed out, "an hour in a New York elevator is a lot more offensive than a bowl of peanuts, and we're still on speaking terms."
The morning meeting was sponsored by the Select Committee for the Entertainment of Extra-Contiguous Delegates, which is headed by Chris Cerf and Henry Beard.Cerf is the author most recently of "The Eighties: A Look Back at the Tumultuous Decade," wherein Ronald Reagan declares that he would chain himslf to the Panama Canal to maintain its freedom. Beard, a founder of the National Lampoon, is currently co-authoring "Miss Piggy's Guide to Life" with the porcine princess.
Proclamations declaring Manhattan and Guam sister islands and Panama and Gowanus sister canals were distributed to the delegates. They were sealed with the imprint of a subway token stuck into some dripping candle wax and signed by several members of the committee, including Hamilton Fish, publisher of The Nation, whose signature read "subscribe to The Nation."
"We held the meeting here at the Ginger Man," said Cerf, "because there is a replica of the statue of Liberty on top of the building and we were hoping the delegates would think we had erected it just for the occasion. Not to mention this place's proximity to Broadway" -- which, following the breakfast, was renamed Abroadway in honor of the delegates representing Americans Abroad. The Select Committee also renamed Gramercy Park Guamercy Park.
Francis Peel, an American lawyer who lives in Geneva and heads the eight delegates representing 2 million expatriate Americans, said the contingent's main concern, was double taxation.
"The rule," he said, "is where the kings runneth not. . ."
For some reason he did not finish the sentence, but headed for the Panama Canal lox. The famous novelist speculated that the ending might be, "the taxman darest not tread."