...what these four young men represent is a challenge to the common
portrayal of male friendship in our popular culture. It is difficult to
find, especially on television, an example of male friendship (outside
of the military or law enforcement) that is neither transactional nor
idiotic. For cheap beer, it’s the wingman trope. In sitcoms, it’s
stupid men doing stupid things in stupid attempts at liberation from
wives or girlfriends. Male friendships, we’re taught, are about finding
or fleeing women; they are not valuable in themselves.
And he's right, of course. Think of the formulaic, successful sitcom. The husband is a well-meaning idiot who gets together with his friends as a relief from his hot-but-kinda-a-bitch wife. Single guys have wingmen, not friends- male friendships are either presented as female friendships using male actors, grown-up play dates, wingmen or other idiotic shit. What you don't see on TV are guys getting together on short notice because one of them just got laid off and wants to get safely drunk to forget about his troubles for a few hours, or doing things like agreeing to drive a friend to the airport at 4am just so you can hide a dildo in his carry on bag. And the shitty thing is that, in my experience, we actually are systematically denying our own male children the opportunity to make lifelong friendships with other boys. How many of us became best friends as kids with another boy whom we first met in a fistfight? A fair number, I'll bet. When do we give boys the opportunity to wander in packs around a neighborhood or into a patch of local woods undisturbed? Think about it... if your local cops saw a dozen 12-year old boys heading for the treeline, I guarantee you he'll follow and call for backup and then force them to go to a fucking store or something where they can be watched and be sure no one gets a boo-boo. If my wife saw my kid, at 10 years old, with my buck knife in his pocket and a 6-foot spear in hand looking for animals to hunt down, she'd light me on fire and have my boy at a shrink's office... yet, this is something I did with my friends on a regular basis at 10... and at some point, someone always stabbed someone in the ass cheek. If you saw 4 surburban boys heading down the street with spears, it'd be on the news.
What percentage of boys become Boy Scouts now? How many men still maintain friendships with the guys who they went to camp with, or the guys who helped on their Eagle Scout project? I feel we're raising some lonely boys, and yet no one seems to want to connect the dots between isolating and neutering boys and the neuroses and psychological conditions that are rampant in teen boys. How many boys who are heavily involved with team sports and outdoor activities end up on medication compared to their effeminate and sadly lost peers who get dropped off at a mall to go shopping on glorified play dates in their teen years? Boys need to be boys, and our now-mostly single mom parenting and female-dominated education system us setting them up for disaster by medicating and shaming and shaping them into a destructively joyless and pliable mold that is desirable only because it is easy to manage... or it seems to be, anyhow, until here and there one boy loses his shit, goes off his meds and gets on the news. Boys need the freedom to learn to overcome adversity. Not just conflict, but to fight and manage their environment, to achieve understanding at multiple levels- we learn cooperation through shared goals, through messy, often difficult and incomplete victories. We don't lean that at the fucking mall. We learn that at a fistfight where we lose, out in nature, or on a rink or court, but we do that in groups, and denying the opportunity to set a social hierarchy through dominance denies boys the opportunity to learn their place and then rise up beyond it.
I'm incredibly lucky to have several long-standing friendships. I don't have a lot of friends, but the ones I do have are with guys who I went to grade school with, or met in junior high. I always think of one of my older brothers, who had hundreds of friends and was the most popular guy I ever met... and who lost all but one of two of those friends when he damaged his spine and stopped going out to party... and yet, I still feel he's better off with those small number of proven friends.
Damn, I'm on fire today. I loaded cargo, serviced a balky generator and cooked Thanksgiving dinner, too. Not bad. The secret to good turkey is to baste often. Be a basting expert, in other words. A master baster.
Wish I was home, but I've got a distended belly, a couple of free hours and have time for a 4-5 hour nap before getting up for the midwatch tonight. Not bad.
I'm feeling sorry for myself, being stuck on a damn boat on another damn holiday. In the past 15 years I think I've been home for Thanksgiving 4 times. Anyhow, maybe this will cheer us all up: here's some nice girls from Brazil to look at.
50kt winds, below-freezing temperatures and a busy schedule makes for a shitty day. The forward 200' of my barge is solid ice- not a smooth sheet, though, because of the wind, so the rime ice on deck is like a frozen sea writ small from the wind- millions of little 1/2" bumps as wind-driven rivulets freeze as they rear up when the wind rips the top off them. Not very bueno to walk on or work in.
Perhaps it's no surprise that yours truly had a little trouble catching a nap today. Mooring alongside a rusty bulker at anchor, the 3' chop had a habit of smashing us against him. We damaged our fendering system, which is made to protect us from exactly what we were doing, only less so.
A Durham jury found former Duke Lacrosse accuser Crystal Mangum guilty of second-degree murder Friday. Mangum previously made national headlines in 2006 when she accused a
group of Duke University lacrosse players of sexually assaulting her
while she worked as a stripper at a party. The accusations were later
found to be false and North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper
dismissed all charges filed against the students.
Oh, they failed to mention that the prosecutor got busted too for lying about all this. Remember Mike Nifong? Guy who got convicted and disbarred? They're still working out the civil penalty over that. Last I heard it was somewhere around $180 million.
I'm not sure why this isn't in the headlines. Maybe because it doesn't fit the victim narrative. False rape accusations aren't something the media likes to acknowledge as a thing. Murder, on the other hand, should be apolitical... obviously not.
When one of your shipmates or subordinates on board is suffering from sneezing fits from a cold, allergy or whatever, the best cure you can give them is to force-feed them coffee, cheese danish and a strong laxative.
45 minutes later, they'll be waaaaayyyyy too scared to sneeze.
Well, the results are in, and we now have confirmation that Brazil has crowned this year's Miss BumBum, the owner of the most round and lovely backside in the world.
Brazil has a lot of things deeply, deeply wrong with it. This is not one of them.
Anyhow, judge for yourself. I'm inclined to think that, despite the controversy (there were accusations of Bribery by the 3rd place winner, which, knowing Brazil, means that she didn't offer to bribe whoever was in charge of security for the judges who she bribed), they chose well. She's pretty- not a knockout by Brazilian standards, but lovely all around, and with a 42-inch bottom, not in danger of being soon forgotten.
So tonight we're moored in be-ootiful Bayonne, NJ, or as I call it, "The Paris of New Jersey." Carrying about a half-load of 380 centistoke (a unit of measurement) Intermediate fuel oil , the standard in ship fuel. Smells like death. I've got a 6 hour break before we gas up a cruise ship, and, since this is about 2x the normal load of fuel for a cruise ship, we're sitting comfortably deep in the water.
With some extra free time, this has given me the opportunity to handle some paperwork and cook up some mean ass mid-rats. Tonight I cooked up a batch of boneless pork chops and then deglazed the pan and braised a big batch of red cabbage. The side effect of this epicurean feast won't be so nice, and I'm sure that by the time we finish discharging this oil tomorrow the galley and office on board is going to be a hazmat site in clear violation of the Clean Air Act.
Oh, and if you've ever worked on a ship, you'll get a giggle out of this:
That little tool is called a needle gun, and it vibrates rust off of steel. Ships always have a lot of both, so it's a pretty pervasive chore. The amazing thing about it is that it is LOUD. Aside from the direct noise, which is deafening (seriously- long term, it's best to wear earplugs INSIDE your earmuffs), the resonance from the vibration means that it's no problem for someone sleeping, say, 300 feet away to feel and hear the damn things perfectly well while they're in bed or taking a dump or whatever. Sound-and-vibration dampening materials help this significantly, but are expensive, so they're pretty rare on board.
For this reason, needle gunning is often restricted on board to certain hours, and as they do throw sparks at times, can't be carried out during cargo ops or near certain places where flammable things are stored, like in our cargo tanks. It IS possible to be so fatigued that you can sleep with them running, however. I slept off one of the worst hangovers of my life in a dark 4-foot tall 3x6 compartment under the ship's boiler room with a needle gun running (I taped the trigger to the handle) 3 feet from my head. While wearing a respirator, goggles and a face shield in 15' seas.
Well, that was a busy two weeks home! Tomorrow I make my way back to Sodom On The Hudson and another 4-5 weeks of work. I've been busting my ass doing some kick-ass stuff and also just getting my ducks in a row after not being home for 2 1/2 months. Things like, getting a haircut.
I got to go to Downeast Maine, my favorite place in the world that isn't between a ladies' knees.
...I even got to go for a boat ride around my old hometown and summer lobstering grounds.
Not pictured is the 2-foot high pile of bills that I went through. God help the many poor trees who gave their all.
Oh, and I broke my hideously expensive computer. I'm dealing with my now-repaired older computer for this trip. My backup computer only has 1Tb and 6gb of RAM, but, you know, I manage. Anyhow, I'm dealing, and will write more later after I get back onboard.
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.