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Life's Rich Pageant

Man Has Triumphed Over Boat

SUEZ, EGYPT - MARCH 29: The container ship 'Ever Given' is refloated, unblocking the Suez Canal on March 29, 2021 in Suez, Egypt. This morning the container ship came partly unstuck from the shoreline, where it ran aground in the canal last Tuesday, and later resumed its course shortly after 3pm local time. The Suez Canal is one of the world's busiest shipping lanes and the blockage had created a backlog of vessels at either end, raising concerns over the impact on global shipping and supply chains. (Photo by Mahmoud Khaled/Getty Images)
Mahmoud Khaled/Getty Images

The Boat is free, floating and tooting along as though nothing ever happened—a massive iron puppy, abandoned for six days in plain sight, and then rescued by clever smaller boats through careful and persistent nudging and twisting and bumping and thumping, and before you know it, Comrade McKinney has a new children’s book idea: When Big Boat Got Its Head Out Of Its Ass.

Of course, the real winner here was the moon, which simply gave one of its semimonthly spring tides to the problem. Gravity winning the day as always, without ever saying a word about it.

But the coolest thing wasn’t the anthropomorphized giant boat being extracted from the jaws of Ferdinand de Lesseps’s tribute to global commerce and colonial aggrandizement. The coolest thing was this:

Think of “Mashhour is Number One” and the extraordinary pride that comes with that. Even as one of 11 tugboats and a suction dredger that helped the moon unclog the canal, that’s a hell of a thing. Then think of any given Buffalo Bills gameday when the pinnacle of human achievement is a drunk getting dropped (or jumping) through a picnic table. True, it’s not a direct correlation; the crew of the boat are more like the players than the fans. But joy is joy, and accomplishment is accomplishment, and besides, nobody can monetize the Cape Of Good Hope the way one can the Suez Canal. This was by any measure a hell of a thing.

Why the world was riveted by the saga of the big boat is a monument to internet psychology, in which a ridiculously unfathomable thing happened—big thing wedged in smaller thing—and people who knew remarkably little about the process became riveted by the solutions offered by other people who knew remarkably little about the process. They knew the canal was a big deal, they knew things get stuck, and that was about it.

Fact is, getting Ever Given out of its lube-resistant predicament without either having to unload hundreds of containers or blowing the boat to whatever the Egyptian version of smithereens is was one of the grandest human achievements of the year in this, the new world of the pre-eminent C-minus student. The crews of all the boats involved gathered, discussed, re-discussed, deployed, and then did the work as a happy collective.

So yeah, “Mashhour Is Number One,” or at the very least one of 12 that can claim to be Number One. And now that we can all move on to the next weird thing the internet decides to puke our way, I wonder if they sell suction dredger sweatshirts online.