By Garland Davis
Ike was my friend, and, to our wives’ chagrin, we were drinking buddies. I was the Commissary Officer at Pearl Harbor, and he was the CMC at LOGPAC. We first met at Ocean’s; a quasi-legal bar located in the CPO barracks located just outside the Makalapa gate at Pearl. (After 911 the fences and gate was reconfigured to include the CPO area inside the gate.)
We got in the habit of meeting there each day for a few. We later introduced our wives to each other, and we became quite the foursome. The one anomaly was neither of our wives drank and were very conscientious in their efforts to limit our consumption of the grape and the grain.
I met Ike one evening at Ocean’s. He ordered a Coke instead of his usual Seven and Soda. He said, “I had an appointment for a physical today. They took blood last week. The Peter Machinist told me that I have Hepatitis. I forget which one A, B, C, fuck X for all I know. The bad news is, I have to stop drinking for at least a year, maybe longer. I’ve also got some horse pills to take a couple of times per day and a list of foods that I shouldn’t eat.”
You’ve seen the cartoons where there is a little Devil on the right shoulder trying to lead our hero astray and a little Angel on the left shoulder keeping him on the straight and narrow. I have a sloppily dressed Seaman Recruit holding a copy of the UCMJ in one hand and a BCD in the other. I call the little Son of a Bitch Sea Lawyer. He is always trying to talk me into taking the easy way. His favorite saying is “Fuck em.” I very seldom listen to him.
On the left shoulder is a little Chief Petty Officer wearing wash khakis with a cup of coffee in one hand and a report chit in the other. After 1700 the coffee becomes a mug of beer. He forces me to do the right thing by reminding me I am a Chief and that he will kick my ass if I listen to that other Cocksucker.
Before I knew it, the Chief on my shoulder had me saying, “A year of no drinking, that should be no problem. Tell you what, I’ll do it with you.” I noticed that after making me say that the little asshole took a long pull off his mug.
Ike said, “You would do that? I appreciate the support. I’m sure we can do it.”
That little prick on my left shoulder had me saying, “It’s what a Shipmate does.”
A whole year without a drink or a beer. And that was back in the days when it took much longer for a year to pass than it does now.
We left Ocean’s sober that evening, not to darken their door for over a year. We met our wives for dinner at a Mexican restaurant. They looked at us in shock when we ordered iced tea instead of our usual bottle of wine. Their reaction to Ike’s illness was shock and to our decision to give up drinking bordered on incredulity.
Over the days and weeks, we did things, went to movies, plays and even shopping, with them. I took up jogging again. I even got Ike to join me. I’m sure some of the other guys we once drank with thought we had suddenly queered out on them. We drank a lot of tea and milk. I even drank water. I try not to. Fish fuck in it, you know!
The days, weeks, and months slowly dragged by until Ike was scheduled for a physical. He called me a little after noontime and said he had a clean bill of health. We decided on Mexican and called the wives to let them know.
That was a Friday forty years ago. Ike and I have managed to stay sober for that whole time.
Damn, that little Son of a Bitch just kicked me in the left ear for lying to you. Ike and I started with wine at the restaurant and ended up with Seagram’s Seven at the CPO Club. I barely remember my wife driving home.
I woke up naked on the couch, the sun shining through the window with a thunderous roar, dry mouthed and having to piss so bad that if I had had pants on to unzip, I would have pissed all over myself.
The only thing in the reefer to drink was water that she chilled for the dog. He growled at me as I drank his water while charging the Mr. Coffee.
My wife came in glaring at me and said words I hadn’t heard in over a year, “You do know that you are not as funny as you think you are? Do you know what you did last night? I hope you are proud of yourself!”
A couple of minutes later Ike called. He said, “Fuck, I am sick. I feel like I got shot at and missed and shit at and hit.”
I replied, “I know ain’t it wonderful. As old Robert Browning said, ‘God’s in his heaven, all’s right with the world.’”
“Bloody Mary’s at Ocean’s?”
“You got it. Thirty minutes.””