A few good-hearted people, mostly women, imported tons of topsoil to the beach on Midway Island in an effort to prevent it from eroding, to preserve the Laysan albatross’ nesting grounds. A contingent of the birds approached proudly, as though they knew the origin of their human name: the moniker of the small island on which they invented their sexual prowess. These Laysans puffed themselves up to seem more attractive. I tried that when we first met, but I think you were too impressed with my older brother. The women giggled at the Laysans and joked about the cute- ness of this act. The Laysans were confused at their lack of authority. Many of them headed to the airfield. A few stayed, and followed these women across a length of the beach.
If you were to walk alongside them for a few miles, you would come across a public swimming area. Surrounded by families and tanners, a group of insecure men raised an outdoor gym. They imported sand from across the island to secure its foundation; some of it contained feathers and egg fragments. No one has ever seen a Laysan at this gym, but men from all corners of the island come here to puff themselves up. Sometimes there are fights. One man had to be carted off in an ambulance after almost dodging a thrown dumbbell. But always there’s the constant, rhythmic clanking of iron. The women tend to giggle and throw around the word cute.