In the immediate days before moving to Palau, my life was utter chaos. My belongings were spread to and fro across the face of the Earth and I had shipped twenty or so boxes to the equatorial Pacific without really knowing exactly what I had shipped.

Note: I had shipped SEVEN freaking blankets. And there has not been one single moment in Palau when I have thought, "gee, I should put a blanket around my heat-stroked sweating dehydrated body!" Rather, I have been looking for a procedure to have all of my skin removed so it will stop retaining warmth.

With two days to go, I decided that I would go ahead and ship my tv to Palau, which I had previously not planned to ship because I was certain I was going to be spending ALL of my free time on the beach doing that 1950s rock and roll beach movie dance. You know the one I'm talking about.

Let me be clear about this: Shipping the tv to Palau ended up being the best decision of my entire life. No. Seriously. Not an exaggeration. Even if I was happily married and had children and had built the world's largest Snuggie fort, I am certain that shipping the tv would STILL be the best decision of my entire life.

It gets dark early in Palau, and once it does, there isn't much to do. This reality has been great for my hobbies and writing and contemplating the things of life and creating badly photoshopped pictures of Leotrix, but sometimes it's nice to just not be doing something.

We don't get any television stations so the tv exists only for dvd watching. Also, there are no movie theaters in Palau. Unfortunately we only brought like 12 dvds with us (Land Before Time parts 3 - 14). So when we got to Palau, we started searching for dvd stores.

Our search brought us to one place that seems to exist only for pornography. We scoured the options there for a while, looking for anything even remotely wholesome, until we finally felt like we had lost our innocence and it was time to move on. But at least the titles of the movies finally taught me about sex!

You're off the hook, Bob and Cathie in the late 90s.

We found a couple of other places that sell very questionable dvds that don't work much of the time and that all have gigantic Chinese subtitles throughout the films. But that just really hasn't cut it.

So, after months and months of not really having any options, we finally discovered a small video rental store down the street from the apartment.

It was a glorious day. The video store had a good, non-pornographic selection. AND it was actually organized!

We immediately rented three movies and were told that we had to bring them back in two days between 5:00 and 9:00 in the evening, the working hours for this store.

I want it known here and now: I don't turn movies or books in late.

I don't think I could if I tried. I need everyone to understand that turning something in late or paying a bill beyond the due date or falling behind schedule in any way is totally unacceptable to me. That doesn't mean I never fall behind on anything I do. It just means that there are serious emotional consequences if I let that happen. And I'm CERTAINLY not going to expend that emotional capital on something as trivial as video rentals. So I ALWAYS return videos on time.

We returned 48 hours later and on schedule to find the place boarded up and a chain wrapped around the door handles. It looked like it had been shut down. Like, in the we-had-no-idea-the-feds-were-coming kind of way. And it appeared that it would never be open for business ever again.

There was a little anxiety over this but I told myself that if the place was locked up, there was no way for me to return the videos and thus, no reason to be concerned.

We kept going back, day after day, to try to return the videos, but the place appeared to be permanently shut down. No sign on the door. No indication whatsoever about what had happened. We even asked the people who lived next to the store and I swear they ran into their house yelling something about "we don't know anything about anything, we swear!" And then some old man across the street called over to us that we best not be asking any more questions.

A few days into the mysterious shutdown, Daniel ran into the owner at the grocery store and tried to get information from him, but he ignored Daniel entirely and ran to his car. To be fair, Daniel is 19 feet tall and was probably singing to himself at the time so any sane person would have been frightened.

Daniel wrote a song recently called "They Were the Best of Days" and he sings it ALL THE TIME. And he sounds like a has-been burlesque woman from the 1920s who smoked too much early on in her life and never lost a taste for men half her age. And most of the words in the song are indistinguishable one from another. The only lyrics I have ever made out are "they were the best of days, they were the worst of days, and that's my old gal [something something something] on the west banks!" There's also a really scary "dance" that goes along with it, which he calls "the flapper girl dance." I've tried to get him to let me record it but so far he's been camera shy.

Anyway, we were pissed about this, partly because the three videos we had rented were so stupid and had we known we were going to be able to retain them forever, we so would have gotten something better, like Pee Wee's Big Adventure or one of the old Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen movies.

After a couple of weeks we had given up hope that the place would ever open again. Then two days ago I was driving by and the chain was removed and the open sign lit.

I swung in, videos in hand, and passed them over to the lady behind the front desk.

Video Lady: Oh dear. I see that these videos are a couple of weeks late.

Eli: Are you serious?

Video Lady: Yes. See, we wrote the due date on this slip. They were due a while ago.

Eli: You know this place has had a CHAIN on the door for two weeks. Right?

Video Lady: Yeah. I'm sorry about that. We were closed. So you will have some late fees . . .

Just then the owner of the store came out of his office.

Owner: Alii. What's happening here?

Eli: Well, I was just told that these videos are late. But I have driven by this place every day for two weeks and you have been boarded up. There was no way for me to return the videos.

Owner: I see. Well, they are late . . .

Eli: How would you have returned them if you were me? You don't have a drop box. The only way to return videos is to come into the store. You have been closed down so coming into the store was not an option.

Owner: But when were they due?

Eli: Irrelevant! You made it impossible to return them until today!

Owner: Ok. I think we can just forgive it this time.

Eli: Wait a minute. I'm all about forgiveness. But what is being forgiven here?

Owner: It is ok that you are returning the videos late.

Eli: I know this probably doesn't matter at all, but you understand that I didn't do anything wrong, right?

Owner: Haha. Ok. All is forgiven.

Eli: No, I'm not making a joke here. I really didn't do anything wrong. I need that to be very clear. I'm not indebted to you in any way.

Owner: Ha. Ok. Ok. Uh-oi.

Eli: How about if we all just admit that the videos are NOT late?

Owner: Don't worry. We won't charge you a fee this time.

Eli: I know that! Of course you won't charge me a fee. You can't charge me a fee. Because I didn't do anything that would warrant a fee.

Owner: Thank you. Please come again.

Eli: No! I can't leave until everyone has agreed that I did not turn these videos in late!

I drove home, dissatisfied because nobody would admit that I had done nothing wrong. Then I told Daniel what had happened.

Daniel: Why do you care if they agree that the videos aren't late? They are waiving the fees--

Eli: That's my point! There were no fees to waive!!! Everyone is acting like they have done me a favor! They have not done me a favor! I DIDN'T NEED THEM TO EXCUSE MY BEHAVIOR BECAUSE MY BEHAVIOR WAS PERFECTLY RESPONSIBLE!

Daniel: Gosh I love living with a lawyer!

Eli: You know that sarcasm doesn't show up on the transcript of our conversations, right?

Daniel: There's a transcript of our conversations?

Eli: Uh, yeah. It's published on my blog.

Daniel: You have a blog?

Eli: Sigh.

~It Just Gets Stranger