Sail in a Handbasket

[dropcap]J[/dropcap]amie went sailing with me yesterday. I tried to impress her by demonstrating how to sip beer while traveling at twelve knots.

She wasn’t impressed.

The very first time I went sailing was to impress a girl, in 2001. I’ll call her Millie, but that wasn’t her real name. Millie’s brother was the first-mate on a big cruising yacht in need of crew. At Millie’s urging, I joined the ranks. But I wasn’t a real sailor. Just some idiot in khaki shorts.

I looked like a math major.

There were four crew members aboard the seventy-foot cutter. We did whatever Millie’s brother commanded. Sad to say, he turned out to be a real piece of work. He didn’t like me one bit.

One weekend, two wealthy couples boarded for a three day cruise in the Gulf. And these particular passengers were heavy tippers. For instance: one woman tipped me a fifty just for changing her pillowcases. I nearly fainted. For fifty bucks, I would’ve cleaned the hair out of her bathtub drain.


Late one night, rumor had it that Millie’s brother stole a hundred-dollar tip intended for me. I confronted him about it. He just laughed. One thing led to another, and soon I found myself trying to remove his head. But he was older, and a much better fighter.

Finally, he pushed me overboard. Then tossed the hundred-dollar-bill into the night air.

“You want your money?” he yelled. “Swim for it.”

Oh, I swam alright. For twenty minutes.

As it turned out, it was only a five-dollar tip.

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