Skippy Eaters

by Bob 'Dex' Armstrong
 
 

Life in diesel submarines could get very boring if you didn't stir the pot constantly. To those folks who led normal lives it would be danm near impossible to explain... But we fabricated major controversies just to keep from going nuts. Arguments were a form of entertainment. Totally stupid controversy that divided the crew into factions supporting totally idiotic positions was the best entertainment you could get.

To compensate submariners for living in steel septic tanks like Aborigines, the United States Navy decided to feed us like King Henry…You know, in the movies they show King Henry the Eighth... Big fat sonuvabitch... Always had this table piled high with roast beef, haunches of venison... Loaded with everything, flagons of wine... Big heavy goblets... Everybody digging in, eating with their hands... Reaching across the table and spearing a leg of duck with a dirk... Greasy beards... Wine dribbling off their chins. Laughing and hellraising and tossing the bones over their shoulders to waiting dogs... The good life. That was the boats, the last freebooting buccaneers.

The Navy fed us. Any bastard who rode smokeboats and doesn't say he never ate better in his life is either a liar or a way beyond redemption, unsalvageable whiner...

And we had the best cooks. We never told them that, because ragging cooks was not only part of the unwritten code, it too, provided great entertainment. You tell a cook that he was worth a damn and the next thing you knew his head would get so fat you would have to Crisco the bastard's ears to poke him down the after battery hatch.

We had the best. Rodney A. 'Rat' Johnson. He could have been the head chef at The Waldorf Astoria. Loved Rat... We all did... We never told him, but he knew. Once, saw the man absent mindedly pick up a radish and a paring knife and carve it into a perfect miniature rose, toss it to a mess cook and say,

"Beauty is were you find it, kid."

All of my memories of Requin are somehow linked with Rat... He refereed the crew's zoo like the warden of the rat box, and fed us like kings.

One night we were jackassing sea stores aboard the boat... Somebody tossed us a box of powdered eggs off the truck. This booming voice yells,

"Throw that shit back in that truck, I ain't serving no gahdam powdered eggs to no boat sailors."

The O.D. said…

"Hold up there…what'll happen when we run out of eggs?"

"You let me worry about that sir, but I ain't usin' no damn frigging egg dust, you can bet your ass on that... I wouldn't serve that fake shit to a cocker spaniel."

And he never did. I yelled,

"Give'em hell, Rat."

And he winked...

"I'll have chickens livin' in the gahdam ward room before you see egg dust in my galley."

We ate better than the average bluejacket because the Navy damn near doubled our per man ration money... And this allowed our cooks to buy extra stuff at the base commissary.

Official Navy peanut butter came in olive drab green cans. It tasted like stuff you would find between a hippo's toes... Evil stuff.

So one morning when Mother Rat was heading to the commissary to do her little 'go to sea' shopping we said,

" Hey Rat get some damn decent peanut butter."

"What do you wayward children consider to be decent peanut butter?"

That is when it started and it was still being fought over when I left the boat…

"Peter Pan!"

"Skippy!"

There were two political factions on Requin. The 'Peter Pans' and the 'Skippy-eaters'. I was a Peter Pan. We were the intelligent culinary knowledgeable connoisseurs of the finer things in life. The 'Skippy-eaters' were worthless idiots who had hemorrhoids for taste buds. I wouldn't want to interject any personal bias into this raging controversy or taint this objective history with the slightest hint of prejudice but, anyone on the 481 who intentionally ate Skippy would spread kangaroo crap on Ritz cracker.

We Peter Pans kept book on the Skippy eaters so we knew who they were so we wouldn't run over them on the highway, late on a dark night, when they were out eating runover dead skunks.

To this day I can't understand why we had Skippy eaters. I have tried to forgive them but find it impossible.

I hope that the nuclear boat force had the good sense to outlaw the degenerate practice of hauling Skippy to sea... This would be a step up in the history of undersea service... A giant leap for mankind.

 

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