A photograph of the toasted bread Blacktip Island resident Antonio Fletcher says shows the visage of famed ocean pioneer Jacques Cousteau. (photo courtesy of Supardisahabu)
A Blacktip Island resident’s discovery Wednesday of what he claims to be the face of famed aquatic explorer Jacques Yves Cousteau on a piece of toast has divided the small Caribbean island’s population over the find’s significance and authenticity.
“Pulled my bread out of the broiler that morning, and there was ol’ Jack Cousteau staring back at me,” Antonio Fletcher said. “Knew it was a sign of something, but wasn’t sure what. Took a photo of it to show folks, then locked the bread away so no one’d mess with it. Or eat it. Got to be respectful with signs and omens.
“Don’t understand why folks’re so skeptical,” Fletcher said. “People find faces of Elvis and the Pope and Richard Nixon on their toast all the time. You just don’t hear about ‘em. Me, I think this’s a sign tourism’s gonna be booming again. Mister Scuba himself paid us a visit.”
Others saw more ominous tidings in the scorch marks.
“This sort of secular image isn’t something God would send,” Our Lady of Blacktip priest Audley Crossblesser said. “This isn’t a Virgin Mary-shaped Cheeto or anything like that. Non-religious signs from beyond the physical realm are inherently profane. Why Cousteau? Satan’s sent an image of someone we revere and trust to lead us all astray. Or Frenchify us.”
Others embraced the image.
“It’s a sign we should get back in a groove with the ocean, with nature,” divemaster Alison Diesel said. “Get away from that, our spirits shrivel. Jacques Yves’s reaching out, telling us we need to get our Zen back. What more perfect vehicle for that than a piece of toast?”
Island academics were dubious.
“It’s not a sign of anything—it doesn’t even look like Cousteau,” Tiperon University-Blacktip religious studies professor Stinky Bottoms said. “Frankly, we haven’t even seen the original object. ‘Tonio’s got it locked away, he says for safety. A photo of a random piece of toast has hoax written all over it. Until it can be independently, directly verified, I’m calling BS.
“Personally, I think he made it with a woodburning kit or some such thing,” Bottoms said. “For the attention, or whatever money he could get, or something like that. Hell, a few drinks and everything looks like it has a face on it. Just last week I had a burger that was the spitting image of Ethel Merman.”
Meanwhile, many island residents and guests have transformed Sandy Bottoms’ Beach Resort, where the toast is being kept in a reception lock box, into an impromptu shrine.
“This object, this talisman, belongs to all of us,” Leigh Shore said. “Divers are already visiting the resort, leaving flowers and conch shells and dive gear outside the entrance—Sandy won’t let them inside the lobby. It gives you chills, seeing the response. I think Cousteau’s sending us all good luck right now. I was lucky enough to pick up a great wrist-mount computer and mask when I was there.”
The Cousteau estate did not respond to repeated Blacktip Times inquiries.