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Sunday, July 23, 2017

WHITEY MADE I'M-BEING-STABBED NOISES (19)

Friday, August 26, 1960, Cohasset to Scituate Harbor
     Met the Brewers on dock at 6:30 p.m.  Whitey had all the symptoms of mal de mer before he set foot on the boat.  Poor man, there’s a bug going around town.  Lovely warm evening, but sea choppy, so we took Dramamine.  After half an hour under way, I went below to put on a jacket.  As I opened the closet door, a voice addressed me out of nowhere: “If you are planning to disrobe, perhaps you should know that I’m here.”
     “Here” was the lower bunk, in which Whitey was suffering in silence as the boat heaved and rolled.  I put myself in his place and asked myself if I would want to go to Provincetown feeling the way he did.  Three and a half hours of rough going ahead of us, with little improvement when we dropped the hook in that big open harbor.
     “What would you think of putting into Scituate Harbor and going to Provincetown tomorrow morning?” I asked the Captain.  The Captain was for it, chiefly because none of his running lights were operating except the one on the bow.
     Whitey said gamely from his prostrate position in the bunk, “Anything you folks want to do is all right with me.” Sally, also, was agreeable to the change in plans.
     Half an hour later we were anchored in Scituate Harbor and chopping ice for a round of whatevers.  Whitey had little appetite for dinner, but his thirst was unimpaired.  When the aroma of broiling steak pervaded the deckhouse, his appetite improved.
     Played bridge until 11:00.
 Sunday, August 27, 1960, Scituate Harbor to Provincetown
     Rolled out of our bunks around 8:00, found the weather cool and clear.  Ed took a swim.  When questioned about the temperature of the water he described it as not hot, which Sally dubbed the understatement of the day.
     Sal fixed breakfast, was disappointed when her electric percolator got warm but drew the line at perking.  It had never acted frigid at home, so she concluded that our electricity wasn’t stimulating enough.
     Headed for PTown at 9:00 a.m.  At 9:45 we spotted our first school of tuna of the season, leaping and twisting in the air like porpoises.  By the time Ed got a line out and slowed down the boat, the tuna had submerged, so we speeded up again and went on our way. 
       Arrived PTown Harbor, took Mr. Mitchell’s taxi to public beach, stopping en route to make dinner reservations at The Moors.  Beach as interesting as ever.  Nearby lay a pair of tanned sweethearts whom you could hardly tell apart except that one had a mustache.  In front of us was a girl who was giving her companions and us fascinating glimpses into her private life.  She said she taught her year-old nephew dirty words that he babbled to his mother, nearly giving her aunt a heart attack. 
     There were so many revoltingly beautiful young girls in bikinis that Ed and Whitey could hardly keep track of them.  Their swiveling heads took me back to Longwood’s tennis matches.  Had hamburgers, hotdogs, and minced raw onion at refreshment stand.  Whitey limited himself to a bottle of tonic but went back later for another in order, he said, to use up his share of our pooled cash.
     Requested cab driver to drop us on the main street a few blocks away from dock so that Whitey and Sal could see local color.  After half a block Whitey had his fill of local color and walking.  He and Ed went ahead to the Happy Days, leaving Sal and me to browse and pick up groceries. 
     Harbor quite choppy, especially for three people in a small dinghy.  Sally giggled apprehensively all the way to the Happy Days, while I told her this was nothing compared to some of our commuting adventures in Provincetown.
    Fellows decided to move boat to the lee side of town wharf, thus making trip ashore after cocktail hour not so hair-raising.
     Whitey not impressed by dinner at Moors.  Pointed out that the Red Lion steak in Cohasset was just as good, twice as big, and half as expensive.  Ed went into his “$100 for gas” routine but failed to convert Whitey, who couldn’t see the logic in squandering even more money.  It’s a good thing he and I aren’t married, or between us we’d economize ourselves into a state of galloping malnutrition.
     The pool money, which we carried in a transparent plastic bag, dwindled to nothing right before our eyes.  Ed e-x-t-r---a--c---t----e----d a final five dollars from his agonized pool partner, tipped the waiter almost fifteen percent, while Whitey made I’m-being-stabbed noises. 
     Called Mr. Mitchell’s taxi service.  Stopped at the Surf Club to ascertain the Brewers’ reaction to Daisy’s boygirl.  This time she was dressed in a red chiffon draped dress and looked so delicate and feminine that I think even Daisy might have wavered in her opinion.  At any rate, “he, she, or it” is part of one of the best trios we’ve ever heard.
    Had a shooter on the Happy Days and retired around one.
Sunday, August 28, 1960, Provincetown to Cohasset
     Got up at 8:00, heard Sal puttering around in the galley.  Found her holding match folder and complaining that the burners wouldn’t light, even though she had turned them on as far as they would go.
     “How long have you had them on?” I asked, reeling from the alcohol fumes and hastily twisting the knobs counter-clockwise.
     “Oh, just a few minutes.”
     I examined the alcohol wells and found them overflowing onto the tray under the stove. I told Sal it was lucky she hadn’t managed to light the burners because she would have started the second-most spectacular fire of the season.  Mine was the first, two weeks ago.
     Sally rinsed off the tray and I sopped up excess alcohol with paper towels.  I advised Whitey not to light his pipe, but he said it wouldn’t matter, alcohol doesn’t explode.  Nevertheless he was not so sure of his chemistry that he could be persuaded to try lighting a burner.  Ed was having his morning swim, so he wasn’t available.
     When I thought it might be safe to start the stove, Sal retreated to the cockpit so she could jump overboard if it seemed advisable. Whitey joined her.  I started lighting matches in the deckhouse, gradually working my way toward the galley, gaining confidence and bravado with every step.  Finally I lit what was left of the alcohol in the will, and a meek little flame was the result.
     After breakfast the men went ashore for Sunday papers, Whitey accompanying Ed instead of doing the dishes, as he had promised. 
     While I was rinsing glasses, something happened to the faucet; it wouldn’t turn the water off.  I had visions of water, water, water filling the basin and then the boat, but I averted this disaster by lifting up the drain closer.  Ed and Whitey arrived before our supply of water was exhausted.  Although “there are no plumbers at sea,” our do-it-yourself expert sized up the situation and turned off the water-pressure switch.
     At 10:30 we started cruising slowly back toward Cohasset.  Sighted a large shark early in the afternoon, demonstrated to the Brewers what a superb harpooning team we are.  I took the helm and cautiously circled around behind the shark while Ed got ready with the barb-tailed harpoon and barrel.  As we came closer to the unwary monster, idling along in the sun, Whitey admitted that this was “really quite exciting.” He wondered if Ed thought he actually had any chance of getting the shark, and I said yes indeed, the Captain had harpooned many a shark in his day. 
      “How can they be so stupid?” Whitey said.  Not, “How can your husband be so clever?”  This one was every bit as stupid as its predecessors.  Somehow, though, the barrel and its line got caught on the bow rail, and it took some nimble maneuvering by the Skipper to free the barrel and line without getting his leg lassoed in the process.  As the barrel dropped off the bow, the boat went over it and cut the line with the propeller.  Lost:  200 feet of line, one barb, and one shark.
      Sal and I sunned and read and napped; Whitey had Old Fashioneds and napped and napped.  Ed kept an eye on the automatic pilot, one thing on this boat that is working.  It is 3:30 and we are nearing Minot’s Light.  There is talk of a tennis match that may materialize if all is well at the Brewer and Malley domiciles.
August 29, 1960
      When Kathie called last night to ask what was new, I didn’t feel up to telling her because I was in a still n a state of shock.  What was new was the Brewers’ $400 outboard motor that Timmy borrowed with young Whitey’s permission while we were cruising with the senior Brewers.  He also borrowed their dinghy, to which the motor was insecurely fastened, Timmy says.  When he swerved to avoid a lobster pot, the outboard fell into the harbor.
     When Ed heard what had happened he heaped the usual ten thousand punishments on Timmy.  He couldn’t use his boat for the rest of the summer, he wouldn’t get the promised outboard for his birthday, he was never again to borrow anything from anyone.     
      “By the way,” Tim interrupted, “can I borrow a dollar?  Neil and I are going down to the Shack.” 
      “No!” thundered his father. 
      “Fifty cents?  I’ll just get a frappe.” 
      “Not one nickel!” said his furious father.
      Later—about five minutes later—Ed decided he’d been too hard on Tim.  It was an accident, the kid hadn’t heaved the motor overboard just for a lark.  Moreover, we probably had liability insurance to cover this type of mishap.
     He suggested that I call Edgar Hill first to make sure we were covered, then call the Brewers (with whom we had just had a friendly parting at the Yacht Club) and apprise them of the fate of their outboard motor and our intention of replacing it with a new one.
     A bit jittery, I dialed 1862 instead of 0662 and got Mr. Brewer on the line.
     “Oh—er—hi, Whitey!” I said.
     “Hi, Babs, long time no see, ha-ha,” Whitey said jovially.
      “Ha-ha,” I said.  I explained with a stammer than I’d meant to call Edgar because “I want to
find out if we have liability insurance for your outboard motor.”
     “What’s wrong with my outboard motor?” Whitey said in a less jovial tone.
     “Oh—nothing—it’s just fine.  At least it will be if we can find it.  Ted’s going to dive for it
tomorrow.”
     The Brewers took the news very well.  Sally even thought it was funny.  Edgar says we are covered for the expense, so now I think it’s funny too.
Saturday, September 17, 1960, Cohasset to Cohasset
     Went to Nantucket with Remicks on Witch-Way two weeks ago.  Ted and friends took over the Happy Days for a couple of days. No cruising last weekend; took Ted back to Colby on Sunday.
      Went for a short ride, returned to Cohasset Harbor around five.  Ed was about to make cocktails when he found the water pressure was on the blink again--or so he thought.  Actually, the water tank was dry, so we were obliged to cast off and go to the dock for a refill.  This seemed like a good time to pack up most of our extra gear because it looks as if the season is nearing its demise.  Lugged stuff up to the car, came back just in time to keep the Happy Days from being flooded with more than enough water, due to malfunctioning water-pressure valve.
Sunday, September 18, 1960, Cohasset to Stellwagon Ledge
     Fine weather today instead of predicted rain.  Kathie, Tim, and Neil along for the ride.  Accident-prone Timmy got off to a good start by spilling orange tonic all over his father.
     Saw both shark and tuna at various times but were never able to get close to them--the boys’ frenzied shouts whenever they saw a fin may have alerted our prey.
     Picked up mooring in Cohasset Harbor at 5:20.

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