Postcard from Maui

It’s a common misconception that humpback whales leap from the water as attempted acts of suicide. In fact, these leaps are purely bravado. From the boat, we listened to their simple songs that, in another context, might be runaway pop hits. To the aft, the moving cloud, the flocked water seemed to make the island wring itself up like a rag. If a fin breached the water, the woman in the homemade hat would shriek Show us your body! It was like the Superbowl of Whale Watching. The rest of us on the boat silently decided to vote her off, Survivor-style. Shocked, I said, I haven’t seen this much tail since the 70s. In the water, dozens of whales made like they were waving hello. But any whale will tell you, when you’ve only got one finger, that’s what they’re giving you. They swam 3,000 miles to give you that finger, and you paid $30 to see it.

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