The other day, I received an urgent phone call from the Antarctic immortal, Emilio. At first, I dismissed this as a prank call. Oftentimes, Emilio drinks a very strong homemade brew and then calls us up, pretending to be famous historical figures from the past. I suspect that when he finds himself in these drunken stupors, he fails to realize that we are the immortals and not the famous people we once knew, who are long gone.
Inevitably, we excuse this behavior as simple Antarctic monotony. It is impossible to overstate just how boring it can be down there, so we usually give Emilio a pass.
This call, however, seemed different.
“How are things, Emilio?” I asked.
“Well,” he said, “it’s freaking 4 degrees down here, so you tell me how things are!”
Emilio has that sort of biting sarcasm that can hurt the feelings of a mere mortal. Fortunately, I’m no mere mortal.
“We need an emergency meeting,” Emilio continued. “Now.”
“Okay,” I said. “Come on up.”
Emilio had a hankering for a cheesesteak; so, a few days later, all seven immortals met up at the Ritz Carlton in Philadelphia.
Emilio began by announcing that he wished to be reassigned from his Antarctic post.
This was utterly shocking news—unprecedented, in fact. No one, in the history of immortality, had ever requested such an outlandish thing.
In fact, only once has this ever been considered. It occurred back in 1899, at the onset of the Boer War in South Africa. Our African immortal was utterly frustrated by the situation and it took him and our European immortal, Luigi, several years to reconcile. Obviously, he remained at his post, and he continues to be a successful immortal representative for his rather large and diverse continent.
Emilio went on to explain, in great detail, the plethora of reasons for wanting a change of scenery.
“You try spending thousands of years in a freezing, barren, wasteland with nothing but snow and penguins and then tell me you don’t want a change of pace,” he complained.
No one could argue with his point, especially not me. North America has it all! Nor was anyone willing to switch with him. We other six immortals simply had it too good to even consider it.
Besides, centuries ago, it was Emilio who had, “. . . pined for a challenge as great as living for all of eternity in the barren lands of Antarctica.” Those were his words, and I was quick to remind him of them.
“I said those words literally thousands of years ago,” Emilio retorted.
“But those words were spoken by you, friend,” interrupted our Asian representative, Chuanli. “Were they not?”
“Yes,” replied Emilio.
“All things are difficult before they are easy,” said Chuanli. “That is an old Chinese proverb.”
Emilio knew he couldn’t argue with an old Chinese proverb, especially one that was so profound.
Still, we didn’t want anyone to walk away from these discussions unhappy, so we offered Emilio a chance to discuss possible relocation in an additional thousand years’ time. It’s best to let these big decisions breathe a little.
We also offered Emilio the chance to come visit other continents, as a way to break up his icy monotony.
With that, the seven of us immortals walked the streets of Philadelphia, eating cheesesteaks and visiting all the old Rocky movie haunts. It was enjoyable just being around each other.
Unaware of what the future held, we knew we’d be there to see it, together.