Downtime

Last Laugh: A Little Crazy

15 December 2020By Gavin Rothenburger
Illustration by John Devolle

We’ve all had to adapt to new circumstances surrounding the virus. The biggest change for me is that I’ve been spending an inordinate and unhealthy amount of time not drinking in a bar.

At first, time was passed on my PlayStation before I threw it through the TV for reasons I won’t get into. This left my phone as a useful distraction, but it also went through the shattered remnants of the flat screen after I was continuously humiliated by a seven year old who trash-talked my Angry Birds skills and had the game to back it up. My tablet soon followed suit and, with no electronics left to destroy or TV on which to watch a strange, mullet-headed man doing creepy things with tigers, I was forced into a reckoning where it became all too apparent to myself that I might, in fact, be a little crazy.

I’d always told myself that spending hours analyzing whether or not a bushel of carrots could be shot through a car window if you had the right slingshot, and then spending weeks building said slingshot were just the outpourings of a rational and enquiring intellect. When I discovered that carrots would not break a window but could leave nice dents in a door if you don’t aim well (which I don’t), somebody pointed out that maybe spending time ruining my own car in order to further the little-explored field of projectile carrots might be just a little crazy. After a moment’s thought, I had to agree.

Simply put: “Do you have to be crazy to get into yachting or is it yachting that makes us crazy?”

This made me wonder about my career in yachting as a whole and led my evidently flawed mind to pose a simple question similar to the age-old quandary of “What came first: the chicken or the egg?” Simply put: “Do you have to be crazy to get into yachting or is it yachting that makes us crazy?”

This, obviously, begins with a bit of an unproven premise in that it assumes everybody who’s in yachting is nuts. If I’m ever of any doubt of this, I sit down in the crew mess at lunch and look left then right. Beside me is a maladjusted engineer who hasn’t left the boat in six weeks because he’s convinced that machinery only works efficiently because it’s frightened of him and that if he absents himself everything will vengefully self-destruct.

On my other side is a second stew who’s looking to lose weight and has, accordingly, decided to only eat salad, which she dresses with a half bottle of ranch, four strips of bacon, and two Snickers bars. All this while the captain holds forth on the importance of standards and discipline when he hasn’t shaved in a week and is, quite painfully for us all, flying low after apparently running out of clean underwear.

There’s no doubt: we’re all crazy. But were we always this way? I look back to the time when I first chose to live in a broom closet that regularly and violently lurched enough to either launch me out of bed or concuss myself on a porthole, all while a roommate made strange noises in the dark. And I remembered loving this life. That, by definition, is irrational. But that’s just me.

We recently had a green deckhand join us who, by all appearances, was perfectly normal. She had interests outside of boating that didn’t involve unmentionable fetishes or feature any sort of human or animal dismemberment and whose presence was natural enough that I didn’t ever feel the need to stick my head in a lawn mower. In short, she seemed sane.

Two months went by and, lo and behold, she literally overhanded a plate of food at the chef because of a parsley garnish before proceeding to the bosun’s locker with a bottle of gin — and did not come out until the next day when she casually wondered what the big deal was.

She may have just hidden her true colors. Or did two months of constant exposure to a captain who was an overflowing bowl of pent-up lunacy on top of working under a mate who thought he was some sort of reincarnated Babylonian god put on earth to belch wisdom at anybody unfortunate enough to be required to listen? He then sent her around the bend, up the street, and twice around the corner to the point that she was lost to the world beyond any reasonable chance of recovery.

In answer to the “chicken and the egg” quandary, I say give me buffalo wings with an omelet. And to answer my own question, let yachting give us the outlandish, irrational, senseless, and odd. Splash on a hint of psychosis and marinate in ridiculous. Because, really, it doesn’t matter what we were before. We are what we are now.

You can call me crazy but, just remember, we’re all in the same boat.

This column is taken from the December 2020 issue of Dockwalk.

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