The Appropriate Response to Triggered Snowflakes with Nuclear Codes
Budweiser and tuba in Guam
It takes a lot for people on Guam to get collectively riled up. After all, the chill, can’t-be-bothered islander is a stereotype with good reason. But with the repeated threat of missile strikes against my tiny, Pacific home this week, people all over Guam were searching for a way to detox from the anxiety and stress.
My answer? The classic “kick back.” Take two to 20 friends, add alcohol, and feel the high blood pressure reduce with each round of laughter. The ritual isn’t lost on the group I manage to assemble late Friday afternoon. It’s been a long week. Tensions between Pyongyang and Washington—both led by triggered snowflakes with nuclear codes—have escalated over the past several days at a faster rate than ever before. After President Donald Trump’s now infamous “fire and fury” threat, North Korea said it was readying a plan—subject to review—to launch four missiles that would reach the waters off Guam.
Budweiser and Bud Light are the only beers I buy today. I intend to cut this American beer stash with a traditional coconut wine called tuba; an extra dramatic touch to the last-minute session.
The handful of guests that can make it arrive over the course of a half hour.
“So why are we drinking?” Morgan, a local musician asks.
I explain to her that I had basically been asked to get sloshed and rant about North Korea.
“Is it sad that I’m not taking this threat seriously at all?” she says. “The whole thing is fucking stupid to me.”
We shotgun a beer while we wait for the others to arrive. Our discussion drifts to the week’s media attention, which put Guam in a rare international spotlight.
Morgan’s friend, she tells me, sent her the front pages of Reddit when Guam was mentioned: brown tree snakes and a Catholic sex abuse scandal. She, like a lot of residents, are sensitive to how the media portrays the island.
A few more people arrive, and we begin to complain about Guam’s (justifiable) reputation as primarily a military fortress. That in 2017, the media still only counts military personnel and their families as American lives in jeopardy. About the U.S. senators who have pushed for war, because Guam is so far away from “home” territory.
That’s when we start cutting the beer with tuba. It’s a pre-World War II product I drink only when I feel particularly nationalistic.
It hits the spot. Slowly but surely the conversation shifts from whether the presence of the military makes us more or less of a target, towards local gossip and conspiracy theories about the sudden reappearance of a certain 90s local celebrity (who is now a military contractor) and whether it might be connected to this week’s war games. Geopolitics gives way to discussions about our endangered native language. The recounting of news is slowly phased out in favor of stories about our grandparents and our history.
Perhaps it’s a sign that Morgan has it right. The possibility of getting caught in a nuclear war isn’t that serious, for now. Otherwise, would we be able to joke like this?
The sun sets and our normal schedules kick in. Kids need to be checked. Gigs are fast approaching.
And just after the last person leaves, I allow myself to check Facebook. A live video of Governor Eddie Calvo speaking to reporters (local, national, and international) was the first thing on my timeline. He was announcing daily security briefs. He seemed to on board with the president’s “fire and fury” routine.
I turn, and see that the gallon of tuba still has about a quarter left, and chug it. Then I shotgun another beer, and start looking for the next kick back.