By: Garland Davis
There is a story that inventor Thomas Edison was a great practical joker. Edison smoked cigars and was exasperated by a colleague who would smoke his cigars. He decided to order a box of cigars from a Tijuana company. He ordered the cigars to be made of five percent tobacco and ninety-five percent horseshit.
A few weeks after ordering the cigars, he called and asked when could he expect them to be delivered. The Mexican Company responded by saying, “We delivered them three weeks ago.”
Evidently Edison had smoked them himself. He told a friend, “You know those weren’t bad. Maybe I will order more.”
That is about the truth quotient of sea stories. About five percent truth and ninety-five percent horseshit. The truth has been diluted to the point that it is only visible with a pair of “Big Eyes.”
Sea stories are like fish stories. It must have something to do with water. Water is the determining factor. Sailors sail on the water and fabricate some of the damnedest tales ever told about their exploits, both afloat and ashore. Fishermen catch fish in water and tell tales about the, “One I caught last year” or “The one that got away yesterday.”
I expect a sailor who is a fisherman is the biggest damned liar who ever came near a body of water.
SIDEBAR: I have been known to spin a yarn, both orally and in writing, from time to time. I add this disclaimer. I hereby declare that all the stories I have told or written are the truth, no shit. Neither my wife, dog, nor any shipmates (well maybe a few), are to be blamed for any story I have told. END SIDEBAR
I have been asked, “What’s it to you? You writing a God damned book?”
“Maybe someday. Who knows?”
“Well leave this chapter out.”
Nah. Who gives a crap about reading stuff about a tribe of sea going idiots? No one would believe it. Once upon a time, I lived among people who volunteered to leave civilized society for months on end to go float around on various oceans training to fight a war with old rusty worn out ships in some of the most uncomfortable living spaces, monotonous food, eighteen hour workdays in conditions that would cause massive strokes and heart attacks at OSHA headquarters for less money than your little brother’s allowance. Who’d want to read shit like that.
It was also good to live among men who were right where they wanted to be… Nobody chloroformed them and hauled them off to San Diego or Great Lakes. They never received the dreaded letter from the Selective Service Board. They volunteered. Every damned one. Most of the world didn’t even know they were there. They lived in ships. Little primitive, and some not so little, communities of the finest men I’ve ever known. Men who lived in metal containers and took them to sea. Maybe there is a story in there somewhere.
Perhaps, I’ll attempt to write it someday.