THOUGHTS AND COMMENTS FROM AN AMERICAN Merchant Mariner
Monday, December 12, 2011
Paul and the B.O.B. being disreputable again
While I was home last time I managed to get good and drunk with former captain (and employer) The Notorious B.O.B. Bob and I fished together for many years on the RITA C., a 42' lobster boat originally owned by Bob's father, a man who could sell ice to eskimos and who managed to shove me off the fence when I was managing a small fish farm and considering giving it all up to go back to being a lobsterman. This was 11 years ago, I believe. I spent the next 8 years fishing with the B.O.B. Bob and I are dangerous together when we're off the water. Although both of us have more legitimate jobs nowadays- me here, at HAWSEPIPER's global afloat HQ/hot dog sales emporium, and the B.O.B. as the director of afloat operations for a marine research laboratory, but back then we were just lobstermen. But I digress. So while I was home, the B.O.B. and I got together at a bar (!!!!) and proceeded to drink too much. This is significant in that neither of us are heavy drinkers (now), but have a history of drinking too much together. And we didn't fail to live up to our standards from the days of yore. I'm not sure what it is about nostalgia and "what the hell happened to us?" conversations, but the beer was disappearing like it was going down the drain, and we managed to have a great time just warming a pair of barstools, completely oblivious as to the people and place around us... and you know, I can't remember the last time I genuinely had a time like that, laughter, commiseration, foolishness and, yes, alcohol. It was a wonderful time, and sure I spent the night on the couch after rolling over to hug my wife in my sleep and grossing her out with stale beer breath once too often, but I woke up with a touch of the 'zaclies and some great memories. I think. Being a lobsterman and drinking beer aren't as synonymous as you might think. It's often burtal work, and you come to the dock at the end of the day with wet clothes and a tight back, and as nice as a beer would be, a shower is often more appealing, as is time with family. At that time, however, the B.O.B. and I were bachelors. I had just started dating an Inappropriately Hot Foreign Girlfriend, and was living in The Pickle Jar, the ultimate bachelor pad, so with no one waiting at home for us, the B.O.B. and I would drink at least one beer together at the dock at the end of the day most days, and considerably more some days. It was certainly cheaper than a barroom. Like as not, after a beer or two, I'd swing over to the dry cleaner where my girlfriend was working, and rush inside, stinking of rotting fish to demand a hug and make her gag from the smell of me. Some days, however, especially Fridays, the B.O.B. and I would drink 3 or 4 cans of beer each, retreat to our homes, and meet up at a local biker bar later on and continue the foolishness. An appropriately disreputable bar won't boot you for realizing that the smell of fish is still coming out of your pores after a 45-minute shower, so this was key. Anyhow, sitting here in my chair at oh-dark-thirty, at anchor a few hundred miles away from that old dock, I really, really miss almost every aspect of those days. Somehow, it's harder to remember the agony of slinging 50-lb lobster pots with an already-sore back, of slipping and falling on seaweed, of being so riddled with diaper rash in midsummer that I could barely walk, and of my hands being so dried out that the skin on my fingers would crack open and bleed from the abrasion from unzipping my fly to take a leak. That stuff goes by the wayside. The being dead-ass broke part doesn't fade quite so quickly, which is the only reason I'm not fishing right now. It wouldn't be the same without the B.O.B. anyhow. In the 8 years we fished together, the time went by in a flash.
I am Paul B, and I spend most of my life at sea. Ships, Science, the life of a mariner, biology and (mostly) true stories of life among the best and the worst people in the world, the United States Merchant Marines. You'll find it here, maybe. You'll definitely find rants, raves and discussion on life aboard a merchant ship. Come back and see the Brazilian girls, too, who show up fairly regularly.