Pin the Tail on the Donkey

by Bob 'Dex' Armstrong

I don't know if this was typical of other boats or exclusive to Requin and/or SUBRON Six, but there was no subject out of bounds when we played pin the tail on the donkey. Nothing was sacred on the old 481. Guys wouldn't hesitate to tell you your mother was ugly.... Her cooking was lousy... Your sister belonged in a zoo... Your hometown was a dump... Your religion was a pagan cult, operated by the devil... Your dear granny was hooking at the Trailways bus station and that before you got Dolphins the Old Man would be pinning them on Hampton Blvd. shoe shine boys.

Life could get a little boring on board. If you could piss somebody off, it was entertaining. Sounds weird, but being on submarines was weird. Just take Boy Throttleman, Olgoat and Launcher Lary for example and you will understand. Getting to a shipmate was known as administering the 'red ass'... The old pink pooper routine... Lighting up your stern tubes. Read Rontini's BBS and it will be evident that boat sailors can bounce stuff off each other that could be lethal to the uninitiated.

Enginemen were the worst. They were a mile and a half ahead of whatever rate was in second place. Enginemen… Every damn one of them was beyond redemption and salvation when it came to the "I don't believe the sonuvabitch actually said that" personal insult. When enginemen die, they all get the express bus to Hell.

On our boat, John T. could drop the anvil on you in a heartbeat. One minute you could be sitting in the crews mess enjoying a cup of whatever the cooks were passing off as coffee and the next moment you were actually considering the options for ending John T.'s earthly existence.

The rules of common decency stopped at the pressure hull. From there on it was everybody protect yourself.... Sharks ate the timid... Strictly law of the jungle... Walk softly and carry a sharp harpoon.

Officers, God bless'em, never understood it. We had a J.G. who got cardiac arrest when a heavy hitting session broke out.

I remember a session that began in the crew's mess and went on for damn near a week. Looking back, it may have ranked as the most fun we ever had playing the red ass game.

We had a lad aboard who had two engineering degrees, had actually considered becoming a priest and was without a doubt the most intellectual E-3 in the navy. How a guy makes the quantum leap from priest to boat sailor is beyond me, but he did. He arrived with a thin skin and left with an armadillo hide.

One morning, greasy John.T. ventured forward. He pulls a cup from the rack, draws a cup of coffee, looks over at A.L. and asks the dumbest question ever asked,

"Hey professor... How come you Catholics pray to dolls?"

A.L. lit up… Within a week, the kid had laid the entire doctrine of the Catholic faith on every available ear. We could have become commissioned Cardinals. We seriously considered buying some of those elephant tranquilizer darts to shoot him and shut him up. After he figured he had converted the heathen horde, he piped down and conversation returned to tits, cars, the New York Giants, and the Chicago Bears.

Then John T. showed up and said,

"Your Eminence, word has it the squadron is looking for a boat to go north and punch holes in the ocean... Would you talk to your Mother Mary doll and tell her to tell God that the Cutlass ain't been anywhere lately?"

Ten minutes later Dutch told John T. if he mentioned dolls one more time he would wake up to find his tongue vice-gripped to his gahdam eyelids.