A Letter To Ajax

Ajax the great, they once called you. The Bulwark of the Achaeans. A man who could hurl boulders the size of Volkswagen Beetles through the air like elephant-skinned dodgeballs. You fought Hektor to a stalemate for an entire day, and didn’t need a crutch from the gods as he did. Must have been nice, being almost invulnerable. You were a true man of ability Ajax, or rather, you were extolled as one in Homer’s Iliad. He paints you as the proud bastion of courage and strength in an assemblage of noteworthy’s that fought in the Trojan War. At the very least, you’ve got Frank Sinatra’s endorsement as a warrior, which probably seems like an off-kilter thing to say, but you did it your way in any fight you were forced to face. Achilles was a virtuoso of combat aided by a River Styx dunk tank, Odysseus had a world of wit and Athena’s helping hand, and you are seen in their likeness. A simple man of flesh and blood, bound in whole by a brutish force of will. With the exception of the energy drink you took from Poseidon, your battles ended too swiftly for divine intervention anyhow. I imagine the gods shifting their focus elsewhere from wherever you fought, thinking, “he can handle himself,” after watching you crunch the ribcage of a Trojan with a bash of your shield. It pays to be mighty, and you knew that better than most.

Before I move on to why I write to you, I want to say that the way you went out saddens me. You went unscathed through a grand scale war only to off yourself after having Achilles’ armour swindled by a silver tongue. I try to empathize, I’d hate getting tricked out of a priceless prize by the goddess of wisdom as much as the next guy, but it’s nothing to go shoving a sword through your armpit about. It seems childish, but I’ll poeticize it for you nevertheless, as at the foot of your grave I’d say that here lies Ajax, son of Telamon, a man so resolute that he’d rather die than not have his way. In the Trojan war, there was a swath of mortal men brave enough to fight in the domain of gods with nothing but their word, balls, and frail human physiology. Of all of these men, he, was through and through, the greatest of them all.

Now, enough adorning you in praise, it’s time to get around to the purpose of why I’m sending this letter to your room in the Hades Hotel. For starters, I’ve got the sting of cabin fever, being cooped up inside during the winter months. More importantly though, I wanted to give you a telescopic view of your modern legacy so that you can see all that it has become. I’m worried you’re being defamed, and that your name has survived beyond the grave only to be dragged through the mud. Y’see, fate’s curse brought me and many others alike to be aware of the title of Ajax without ever knowing who you are. It’s something that happens to the names of the great men of old that live on, your friend Achilles got an ankle tendon, and one of the most iconic idioms to ever exist. You might feel grieved to know that your name lacks that level of iconicism. Ajax as it’s known in the modern day is something characterized by mediocrity, stagnancy, docility, and… water. All of which, with the exception of the latter, were traits you’d scoff at during your glorious days as a breathing man. I’m about to detail what I refer to in a moment, so don’t fret entirely until I’ve explained why exactly you should. But be forewarned of what’s coming, and remember that ignorance is bliss. I can tell you in confidence that modern day Ajax isn’t something you would ever deem worthy of sporting the moniker.

It started off promisingly, I’ll admit. In the Second World War the HMS Ajax took to the seas to help Canada in the fight against the forces of the Axis. Ah, my bad old boy, I forgot that you’re ancient, let me bring you up to speed. Canada is a country in North America, North America is a continent far west from Europe, Europe is the continent that contains Greece, Greece is now known for olives, there have been two World Wars, weapons can decimate cities in the snap of a finger, the Cubs won a World Series, people are more meek now than ever, and the earth has been confirmed to be flat. It’s a crazy amount of change to be sure, and I hope you can wrap your head around it all, but let’s digress. The HMS Ajax. You would have been proud of every man on that noble vessel, perhaps you even imbued them with some of your best qualities. They fended off German war boats, despite being a loveable supply ship, suffered immense damage, and still made it home in time for D-day. They were brave, tenacious, and brought undying glory to the nation they fought for. In that sense, their remembrance is a spitting image of your own. And, though you never found yourself in the position of being outgunned in any duel you entered, I’m certain you’d be proud of each of those men. I’ve got no doubt in mind that you’d say that every one of them did right by your name with their service.

Unfortunately, the ship isn’t what I refer to when I speak of Ajax having a tarnished reputation. No, no, what I speak of is the Town of Ajax, the hellspawn of the ship, named after its predecessor after the war had subsided. I don’t imagine you’ll be able to fully grasp why I speak so ill of the place without having lived there yourself, just as it’s difficult to capture the meaning of a book you haven’t read; but I will try to give you the best SparkNotes synopsis I can on everything that is, the Town of Ajax. Ahem. It’s a place that is marketed around being in close proximity to a body of water, realtors would mention in passing that “Ajax by the lake,” is the town slogan. What they’ll fail to mention, is that the esteemed body of water smells like methane from cow manure, and rotting fish carcasses in a steam sauna. Or, that the area surrounding the lake is so grossly encased in furry seaweed that the water is uninhabitable, and even if it was it’s venomously polluted, and plagued by the inaudible screams of half the aquatic life trying to wrangle their heads out of the plastic six pack rings left in the water by a group of highschool kids opting to full send at Rotary Park because their parents won’t let them smoke their custom vape kits in the house. There’s no improvement once you divert from the shoreline either, your eyes will be met with endless rows of identical brick suburban houses, circulated by a team of abrasive WeedMan salespeople trying to deliver a scripted pitch to you about your lawn at 9 pm in the comfort of your own home. The major roads are clad in Christmas lights during the winter time, for about 3 street lights a piece, giving off the impression that the town employees up and staged a coup after enduring 5 minutes of the installation process. There are dive bars, upon dive bars, populated by crowds of habit-bound vegemites having the same conversations, with the same people, drinking the same drinks, every single week. You can’t blame them for behaving so redundantly though, it’s not like there much else to really do. There are a few nice hiking trails through the industrial district, that allow you to catch up on any amount of grey bureaucracy and unused railroad tracks you’ve been longing to see, and if you walk far enough in a certain direction you’ll have your nostrils singed from the rancid stench of the Miller Waste plant that permeates throughout the town on a humid day. Those who hate to hike might sit in their backyards blasting country music through a Bluetooth speaker, sunbathing, and chugging Blackberry Somersby Ciders until they retire inside to spend the rest of the evening nursing a glass of red wine on the living room couch while blaming the cruel world for the fact that they’ve yet to find a soulmate. If you find any of that drab, and you’re more privy to feeling adrenaline, your best bet is to try cocaine – Ajax has a municipal source, as it were. Eventually, every inhabitant becomes decrepit, starts acting like a lobster, and inevitably begins funnelling their pension into the OLG Casino’s slot machines with streams of drool dripping slowly from their sedated mouth. It’s like Chinese water torture for anyone to bare the sight of; but hey, at least they’re getting free coffee out of it. Stick it to the man.

It’s a catatonic place old boy, that doesn’t offer much in the way of imagination if you’ve spent more than a few months roaming its baron streets. Cursed by its conception, Ajax is a town where baby-boomers and generation X came in droves in the wake of pandemonium, seeking simple solaced solitude, and a habitat to raise perfect families in peace. Now, the next generation longs for greater purpose from a safe house designed to be an escape from exactly that. They’re nomads who search and seek only to return empty handed, and become so insecure as a result that they’ll open fire on a Ribfest the instant they feel slighted. They go off to school and claim to live in Toronto whenever asked where they’re from. Is that how you want your legacy to be defined? It’s almost ironic Ajax, you went from being a warrior who stabbed himself through the armpit, to being an armpit, of the real city it lies at the basin of.

But you mustn’t be woeful about all of this Ajax, as we need you now. I’ve only told you all of this in hope that it generates enough rage to inspire. It’s true, that with the exception of your cleaning products, your na… oh yeah, you’ve also got some cleaning products, forgot to mention that. As I was saying, with the exception of your cleaning products, your name isn’t looked upon too favourably. However, when it comes to Ajax, there is still time to change. Rise up, overthrow Hades, and flip the rest of the pantheon the bird as you hop back up to the land of living. Go east on the 401, find the town I’ve described, tell the Mayor’s council that nobody uses the bike lanes, and seize control of the government. Take your handle back into your own hands my friend, and set a fire in the hearts of everyone in your new army. I have no doubt that in due time, everyone will once again herald the unforgettable name of Ajax the great.

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