newyorker:

Susan Orlean:

Yesterday, it was reported that eighty-four-year-old actor Dick Van Dyke had fallen asleep on his surfboard in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, drifted so far out that he lost sight of land, woke up to discover his predicament, assumed he was going to die on the open water, but then was guided safely back to shore by a pod of porpoises. Talking to reporters later, the actor is quoted as saying, “I’m not kidding.” This is one of those news stories so rich in kookiness that it is nearly impossible to put your finger on what part of it is the kookiest. Is it the fact that Dick Van Dyke surfs? The fact that any eighty-four-year-old surfs? Is it the simple and slightly surprising—and heartening—fact that Dick Van Dyke is still alive? Or just the notion that any sentient creature could fall asleep on a surfboard in open water?

The only part of the story that doesn’t amaze is the fact that a pod of porpoises would see a floating, drowsy light-comic actor—who might have peaked with his portrayal of Rob Petrie but did excellent work in “Bye Bye Birdie” and “Mary Poppins” and even better work as the voice of Mr. Bloomsberry in “Curious George”—and guide him back to dry land. Then again, animals are so predictable that way.

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