While all of us are sitting at Tom’s imaginary table, I was wondering what everyone would be drinking? Those of us in America seem to be very fond of coffee while people in England and Europe seem to love their tea, although there are those of us in America who prefers tea to coffee. Then, of course, there is wine, which I think everyone loves.
I spent a lot of time in the US Navy (nearly half my life) where we would drink coffee by the gallon and it is made so strong that you could stick a spoon in it and it would stand straight up.
This brings me to my sea story.
I was once deployed aboard a destroyer-tender (which is basically a floating gas station with a garage for repairs) called the USS Yellowstone. We were coming home from a long deployment to both the Arabian Gulf and the Mediterranean Sea. As the ship’s only weather forecaster, it was my job to prepare the morning briefing for the Captain. One particular Sunday morning as I slowly dragged myself up the ship’s ladder to the chart house behind the bridge, I happened to see Chief Warrant Officer (CWO) Walsh coming off of the bridge. CWO Walsh had been in the Navy for nearly 30 years. He was as crusty as a crab and I fully believe that there was more salt in this man’s veins than there was in the sea. Popeye is a cartoon character but if he were a real person, CWO Walsh would be him. The man even walked slightly bow legged. As I approached the door to the chart house the most awful smell hit my nose. At first, I thought that the smell might have been CWO Walsh (who wasn’t particularly fond of bathing and who always smelled of fuel oil – even in his civilian clothes) but I was wrong. Apparently, somebody had left the coffee pot on the burner behind the bridge on all night and the coffee in it had burned in the pot. It was an incredibly foul smell. As I held my nose, I walked past CWO Walsh and said hello to him. He gave a gruff “hey there weather guesser, what’s new?” as he went to the coffee burner and picked up the pot. To my horror, CWO Walsh then proceeded to pour this oily, black foul smelling concoction into his very brown stained mug (which may have been as old as CWO Walsh). As the last of it oozed into his cup a large clump fell into it and splashed the mixture over its side and onto the deck. I gagged as I watched this and warned CWO Walsh, “You aren’t going to drink that, are you sir?” He nodded his head and said, “Hell yes. It puts hair on your ----“ as he then proceeded to down the entire mug of black gunk right there in front of me. After he was done, he smiled and said, “tastes good” and then he turned and walked back onto the bridge.
I haven’t drank a cup of coffee ever since.
Someday, my ship will come in, but with my luck, I'll be stranded at the airport!