Sunday, November 10, 2013

175. Sailors

It was the weekend before Veteran’s Day and, truth be known, I was looking forward to seeing what shape C.W. might choose this year. As the loyal reader will recall, he can be quite talented when it comes to celebrating the military.

This year he didn’t disappoint.

How shall I describe him? Well, he was a 19th Century ship’s bosun. That’s right, he was an exact replica of a sailor from the days of iron men and wooden ships. He could have stepped right off the deck of USS Constitution or the HMS Victory. He even sported a bosun’s pipe, that little curved metal device that emits a sharp, piercing whistle that can be heard during the roughest seas. It is used to convey orders on board a naval vessel.

Wait. It was my old bosun’s pipe and that’s when trouble started. Before I could protest, he piped “All hands on Deck.”

I suspect my wife, who was still abed, levitated. All I know for sure is that a voice that could have been heard over the guns at the Battle of Trafalgar shrieked, “Don’t make me come in there.”

“Pipe down,” I said. “What do you think you are doing?”

He said, “Avast Matey.”

“What the hell, C.W.?”

“Know what I think?”

I said, “I never know what you think. Why don’t you enlighten me? But first put that damned pipe away before you get us both keelhauled.”

“Stow your jabber, Fenderhead,” he said. “Let me swap a yarn or two.”

I groaned. He continued.

“I’ve been pondering,” he said. “I think you are a ‘fore and aft’ country.”

“Fore and aft,” I said, trying to catch his drift.

“Right, matey.”

“Carry on Lad,” I said, sort of getting into the mood of the moment.

“Take babies,” he said.

“Take them where?”

“No, take babies,” he said.

I waited.

He said, “Take babies. Seems a lot of individuals in your species love and want to protect them until they are born.”

I waited.

“Then,” he said. “If they ain’t born to the quarterdeck, they can be tossed overboard with the day’s garbage.”

He had a point. I forgot for a moment that I was talking to an alien who had chosen the shape of a historical sailing master. “Fore and aft,” I said.

“Fore and aft. Same with us poor military men and women.”

“How so?”

“People love us as long as we can splice a line, fly down the decks at ‘beat to quarters,’ climb the rigging, and fire the cannons.”

“We love our military folks,” I said. “Just look at all the bumper stickers stating as much that you see on the freeway.”

He said, “What’s a freeway?”

I said, “Never mind. We just support our troops, that’s all.”

“What about after the cannons roar, and the smoke clears, and we can’t tie a bowline with our one good arm, or man the crow’s nest with no eyes.”

“Are you referring to the maimed and wounded?”


Shouldn't you honor him as much after
the battle is over as before it begins? - C.W.
“Well we support them too, or at least we should.”

“So why are our infirmaries and dressing stations so underfunded?”

“Are you talking about the veteran’s hosptitals?”

“Affirmative, Lad.”

He had me. “I don’t know,” I said.

“Fore and aft,” he said. “Makes all the difference in the world.”

“Fore and aft,” I said.

“I think,” he said. “That it has something to do with your ‘port and starboard’ political system.”

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