Moby-Dick marathon at night

Carol and I went across the street at about eleven o’clock to see who was left at the Moby-Dick marathon.

The Readers, those who would be reading during their assigned time, sat on one side of the room, where the Watch Officers could keep an eye on them. They all wore numbers on their left shoulders, big numbers on stick-on labels. They paid close attention to what was going on, and they followed along in their own copy of Moby-Dick, or shuffled through papers with the reading schedule. Attentive and ever so slightly restless, it looked as though either caffeine or adrenalin was pumping through their bloodstreams.

The Spectators sat in the chairs on their side of the room, or on the stairs leading up to the balcony, or they sprawled out on the balcony itself, or they wandered back and forth to the back room where the bathrooms and coffee were. There were two groups of Spectators. There were a few people like Carol and me who would stay until they got tired and then go home. And then there were the people who obviously planned to stay all night. The all-nighters were predominantly young and slightly giddy; but the older all-nighters had more of an appearance of grim resolution.

We stayed and listened for a while. The rhythms of Moby-Dick, when read aloud, are expansive and calming; I sat cross-legged and felt meditative; although not all that meditative, because I craning my head back and forth so I could watch people come and go. At last Carol touched my arm and said we should go. We went across the street and went to bed.


At around two in the morning, I was awakened by loud voices outside our apartment building. There are a lot of bars in the neighborhood so we get more than our share of drunks walking by our house. But these voices kept on and on; and besides, it wasn’t a Friday or Saturday when we usually get the loud drunks. I went to the front windows and looked out. Three guys stood just under one of the windows, all bundled up against the bitter cold, and one of them appeared to be sipping out of a large can; but they didn’t sound drunk, merely high-spirited.

I opened the window a crack. “People trying to sleep up here guys.”

“Oh, sorry, sorry,” said the one with the can, and they scampered off towards the Whaling Museum. The only thing I can figure is that they were at the Moby-Dick Marathon and decided they needed to take a break outdoors; but it seems odd that they would come across the street and stand under our windows.

2 thoughts on “Moby-Dick marathon at night

  1. akirk



    That was we. We were in high spirits, worshiping the bard. And there was not a can but a bottle involved, and containing more than beer. The sailors had their share of rum, did they not?

    We extolled the bard, reveled, got too loud, left at your request.

    We are glad it was another lover of Melville who so laconically sent us on our way.

    Non in nomine patris, sed in nomine diaboli

    –The Drunks

  2. Dan

    Hi akirk — “…there was not a can but a bottle involved, and containing more than beer….”

    What, and you didn’t offer me any?!!

    Seriously, though, did you stay all night?

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