Now where did I leave my teeth?

For many years Edgrr the Miniature Schnauzer was the mascot for the various ship’s I served on. Edgrr was a jaunty little fellow and had quite a nose for mischief.  One weekend Grr and I decided to take a road trip down from New York to visit my newly married daughter in Richmond VA. The kids lived in a third floor walkup in an old neighborhood called The Fan.

In contrast to already gentrified areas of perfectly restored Victorian and Edwardian splendor, this part of The Fan was populated by an ever changing tableau of characters in various states of homelessness and sobriety.

Edgrr needed a morning walk so off we went. At the entrance to the apartment building Edgrr was pulling to get under the bushes. Edgrr loved to chase rats and I was afraid he had caught the scent.

“What do you want under there?” That is when I spotted a pair of false teeth lying on the ground. Edgrr could see that I wasn’t going to let him have his prize and not being much of a conversationalist, he simply lifted his leg on the situation to express displeasure with my decision.

After about a half hour we headed back home. Much to our surprise, the teeth were gone! Retrieved by an owner that had finally discovered they were missing. At breakfast I told the story of Edgrr’s finding the false teeth.

We all dissolved into laughing fits as one after another we took turns imitating the old bum’s imaginary face as he put those teeth back in his mouth. I hope he had something to wash it down with.

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Nicolas Cage IS a Vampire

I always knew there was something wrong about Nicolas Cage. Oh it wasn’t just that he came off as smarmy and arrogant. Deep down I must have known that Nicolas Cage is a VAMPIRE!

Jack Mord, an antiques dealer has discovered that Mr. Cage foolishly posed for a studio photo in the Bristol, TN area in the 1870s. Thus proving he is not a regular mortal.

Yes, in 1989 Cage did explore vampirism in Vampires Kiss. But who wouldn’t have with Jennifer Beals? Modern Van Helsings now know that City of Angels with Meg Ryan was totally just a smokescreen to throw them off the trail. Or was it just an inside joke?

Nicolas bought an actual haunted house in the New Orleans French Quarter to protect his otherworldly buddies from exploitation by para-psychologists and house tourists. None of his family would sleep there. Maybe the parties were out of this world?

He also bought not one but TWO castles in Europe. However, the profile must have been a little too high because he had to sell them. I wonder if anyone noticed a heavy box filled with earth in the basement?

And his love of flying like a bat hasn’t been diminished over the years either. In an interview with Letterman he tells the story of “the coolest guy I have ever seen”, a guy wearing a tuxedo flew a hang glider and delivered a bottle of champagne to his uncle Francis Ford Coppola in the driveway. Talk about making an entrance!

Careful Mr. Cage, you seem to be getting sloppy lately. First the IRS is after you for back taxes and now this photo is discovered. You have dropped too many breadcrumbs. It is time to fake your own death, feed on a pretty young runaway, and slip off to a new life. And we will all be spared the torture of more Nicolas Cage movies.

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I’ve got the winning numbers!

It was Monday morning at the Coast Guard rescue station and we all heard Dennis shouting. This was uncharacteristic for him. Dennis was an uninspired and uninspiring figure. His career had been nothing to brag about and he had only gotten to his present level because of a promotion system that valued seniority.

“I’ve had enough of this place. You can all kiss my ass and I’m never looking back.”

Now we all knew something had to be going on. Dennis didn’t have enough years to retire yet and he didn’t have any prospects or job opportunities that we knew of.

The Chief Bosun Mate came out of his office next to the radio room, “Dennis what is going on here?” he calmly asked.

Dennis proceeded to tell the Chief how little he thought of him, the job, everyone at the station, and the Coast Guard in general from the Commandant on down.

“Dennis, what is going on? What happened over the weekend?”

“I won the fucking LOTTERY is what happened!” Dennis was waving a ticket in the air and jumping up and down like a buoy in a hurricane.

“Dennis can I see that ticket?” inquired the Chief.

“No you are all jealous! You want to steal my money.”

After assuring him that nobody wanted to cheat him Dennis reluctantly handed over the ticket and a copy of the newspaper with the winning numbers boldly circled.

The Chief carefully compared the ticket to the paper and began to chuckle.

“See, I’m not lyin’ Chief.  Those are the numbers. I got the numbers.”

“Dennis,” the Chief said as he slowly shook his head, “You do have the winning numbers. But this is last week’s ticket. I think you should put your uniform on now.  Oh,and skip the coffee.”

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But Officer, I swear it wasn’t there!

Anyone familiar with Manhattan knows the joys of finding a great item on the sidewalk that someone set out for the trash. I’ve seen snowboards, chairs, computer monitors, lots of questionable “art” and enough mattresses to provide for Haitian hurricane relief. A lot of stuff is left simply because Manhattan is a mobile place and sometimes you just can’t move all your crap when you gotta go. As George Carlin would say ,”You only take your very best stuff.”

So, what did we stumble upon? A fire hydrant! Yes, a real honest to goodness red cast iron fire hydrant was sitting right out there for the trash. One of the guys decides that this is going to look great in his apartment. Along with the pay phone, but that is another story.

Carlin also said, “THEIR stuff is shit and YOUR shit is stuff.”

The next thing I know we are walking down the street and he has this thing over his shoulder. I know not many of you have ever carried a fire hydrant, since they are usually bolted down holding water in the ground but I can tell you they are HEAVY. And carrying heavy things causes one to develop a powerful thirst. The bartender wouldn’t let us bring it  inside at the next pub. I guess he thought it was a weapon or something and we left it on the sidewalk near the curb.

After slaking our thirst with a few cold ones we come out to retrieve the treasure and continue on our way. There is a cop writing a guy a ticket for parking next to “our” fire plug.

“But Officer I’m telling you that this wasn’t here when I parked!”

“Oh sure, somebody just put a fire hydrant here so I could give you a ticket.”

Discretion required us to keep walking while trying not to laugh.

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February 7, 2012 · 4:59 pm

Snakes on the Brain

Sometimes when small Coast Guard ships are being repaired away from their normal home port the crew is housed in a local hotel. The young guys absolutely love this. They get to share a room with only one guy instead of 5 and someone else has to clean the head. This freedom and lack of constant supervision leads to a lot of interesting situations.

Two of them decided that it would be a great idea to buy a small red tail boa constrictor for their apartment (which was over a bar, another story). The only problem was that they didn’t have anywhere to keep it until the weekend when the liberty van made a run back. One of them came up with the idea of just putting the snake in a pillow case. They figured that the snake would just sleep in the dark closet until Friday.

Well, the next morning when the maid came to make up the room she noticed that one of the pillows was missing its case and she spotted it lying on the closet floor.  The end was knotted and it felt like there was something inside. The poor woman was soon screaming as she ran from the room.

The Executive Officer had quite a time persuading the manager not to throw all of us out of the hotel and a personal apology to the maid was ordered.

That snake turned out to be an excellent escape artist. He was found in the washing machine, air conditioner, and even the boiler room of the building by a hysterical bar maid once. The last time he escaped no one ever found him and there was a famously bad movie out featuring snakes and planes. We always said he headed for Hollywood.

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OH NO! Another one went Post It!

It was time for annual employee performance reviews. Everyone knew that there were changes coming in the company structure so this review could be a true determining factor in who stayed and who didn’t.

As her supervisor began going over the forms the she could tell the review was NOT going well. About half way through the process the woman calmly reached over and picked up a pad of the ubiquitous Post It notes. She took out her pen and wrote, “I’M OUTTA HERE!” in bold letters and stuck it on the desk.

The shocked supervisor looked up from the note, “What is this?”

“ My resignation letter.” as she calmly rose and walked out.

Now whenever someone quits unexpectedly everyone at the company says, “Did you hear, another one went Post It.”

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One Lucky Cat

We had a pier cat once in corpus Christi. He wasn’t much to look at. A kinda mangy tom that had seen some rough service. One ear was half gone, lost his tail somewhere, and blind in one eye. A real tough character. I even caught him drinking salty bilge water once. The guys felt sorry for him and would always toss him a fish when they caught one even though the Base Commander didn’t want strays around. Someone ironically named him Lucky.

His favorite hangout in cold weather was the engine room of the construction tug. The big engines had nice heaters and he would curl up on top of the one nearest the door for a quick exit if anyone came in.

These engines had compressed air starters. When you pulled the handle a huge blast of air shot out and the engine cranked over.

Well, one morning I was getting the tug ready to get underway. I did all my normal machinery checks banging around the deck plates and didn’t think anything about the cat snoozing soundly hidden away on top of the engine.

When I threw down the air start lever that cat let out a tremendous howl as the engine roared to life under him. All I saw was a furry blur shoot out like all the demons of hell were chasing him. Which he probably thought really were. The deck hands told me Lucky wasn’t hurt when he tore past them. However, he kept running through the fence and we never saw him again.

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Looking good! Have you lost weight?

Before the current emphasis on tapes, scales, and semiannual weigh ins, the Coast Guard’s weight standards were more subjective. If you didn’t look fat, you weren’t fat. I was enjoying a frosty beverage one evening with a crafty old Chief Warrant Officer and I asked him, “How come you aren’t ever on the weight program? You are obviously over the standards.”

He began to laugh. “Oh, I’ve got that one all worked out. If my Lieutenant ever makes a comment about how I look, I readily agree that I’m too heavy and need to start exercising.”

“Then I start wearing shirts that are slightly too small. You need to eat some salads too and make sure everyone sees you. It doesn’t hurt to make a few comments about how fat you are and that you really need to get this weight off.”

“Yeah, but you don’t exercise?”

“ No,” with a twinkle, “I put on workout gear and go the wardroom and make sure that I’m seen there. Then I go to the hot engine room for about 30 minutes and get all nice and sweaty. If the watch stander comes by do a few pushups. Sometimes you have to add a little water to your clothes if it isn‘t hot enough. Then I go back to the wardroom and make sure I’m seen again.”

“After a couple of weeks of this performance, I just buy bigger shirts and the Lieutenant is happy.”

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The Gray Lady to the rescue

“Is that a knock on the door?”

“What time is it?”

“There it is again.”

I groggily got up and found some pants as I staggered to the hotel room door. I glanced at the clock, 3 AM, and wondered who could be knocking on my door this early?  The Loews Hotel on Miami’s South Beach  isn’t known for uninvited 3AM wakeups.

I peered through the peephole and saw a man in a blazer with a walkie talkie. I opened the door.

“Excuse me Sir, do you know this man?” he asked as he gestured down the hall.

I looked. Standing in the middle of the hall with a dazed and inebriated look on his face was a tall young guy wearing nothing but a complimentary copy of the New York Times.

“No I don’t know him,” I replied.

“Well he was knocking on doors looking for his room,” the security guard responded.

“Well good night and good luck,” and as I closed the door I thought, “I wonder if the New York Times just became his favorite paper?”

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Rack Twins

Image: Multi-license with GFDL and Creative Commons CC-BY-SA 2.5 http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Cybjorg

Coast Guard patrol boats are not known for luxury accommodations. On the old Point Class 82 footers the crew lived below decks forward of the mess deck/galley. Six lucky souls shared this cramped, triangular hole. The beds were appropriately termed “racks”, like the medieval torture device.  The original racks were stacked three high along each side of the hull and consisted of a welded aluminum pipe frame and laced canvas sheet suspended from chains and hooks. A hard fire retardant neoprene mattress provided a little padding.

Patrol Boats are also quite famous for being rough riding. They only draw about 6 feet and are narrow and light.

One night we got a call that a shrimp boat needed a tow. He was about 80 miles out in the Gulf of Mexico.  The seas were on the bow and things were bouncy. Since it was going to take about 6 hours to get on scene, the skipper told the off watch crew to get some sleep.

The seas built as the night progressed and shifted to slightly off the bow. The whole boat began corkscrewing through the waves. One particularly hard wave hit right on the starboard bow and threw us sideways. The fellow in the top starboard rack flew through the air and landed squarely in bed with the guy in the port bottom rack as comfortable as you please.

“What are you doing in my rack?”

“This isn’t your rack, this is my rack!”

Luckily, someone got a light on before the fists started flying and they got it straightened out.

On the way back, with the shrimper safely in tow, someone made a crack about teaching the new rack twins how to trice up for heavy seas.  After that the name just kind of stuck and they became known as the “Rack Twins”. This caused some embarrassing explanations on liberty in the bars. To their relief it soon got shortened to just “The Twins”. This caused even more confusion. One was barely 5 feet tall and the other over 6.

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