Really, it’s love at first sight. OK, maybe second sight.
With all the digressions and interior monologues, it’s easy to forget that Ishmael and Queequeg have a whirlwind romance.
In modern parlance, they wed in Vegas at record speed.
Late Saturday night, they meet in a dark room at a creepy inn. One is “sivilized” (I tip my cap to thee, Twain); the other, a tattooed, heathenish bloke, with dingy teeth filed to sharp points, looking for all the world like the spawn of the devil.
Now keep pace if you can.
They sleep side by side, awaken under a counterpane, have breakfast, go to church, listen to a sermon and worship together back in the privacy of their own room.
A good portion of their intimacy is expressed in matrimonial language.
“I found Queequeg’s arm thrown over me in the most loving and affectionate manner. You had almost thought I had been his wife.” Or, “In our hearts’ honeymoon, lay I and Queequeg—a cozy, loving pair.” Or, “He pressed his forehead against mine, clasped me round the waist, and said that henceforth we were married; meaning, in his country’s phrase, that we were bosom friends.”
The pressing of foreheads is one of my favorite scenes in their courtship. That, and enjoying the highly alliterative “condensed confidential comfortableness of sharing a pipe and a blanket with a real friend.”
It’s now Sunday and their relationship has been consummated in 24 hours, flat. They’re spiritually wed as they head off to celebrate a honeymoon in Nantucket, and beyond.
I’ll definitely smoke to that.