Bullshit and Cinnamon Buns
by Bob 'Dex' Armstrong

 The below decks watch heads aft to wake the oncoming watch.

 The damn below decks watch always rousted you out right in the middle of a dream that consisted of rendezvousing with girls with butterball proportion bust development and skimpy removable lingerie.  The damn guy wandered through the compartment with a flashlight and clipboard looking for the lads.

 One thing about 'hotsacking'...  Hotsacking, hotbunking or warm racking was the result of a shortage of bunks in the old smokeboats.  Non-assigned bunking required a crew member at the bottom-feeder level of the undersea social order, to root through a compartment of walrus snoring animals to find an available vacant bunk and one or two leper colony cast off blankets to Burrito-wrap himself in.  We were the navy's equivalent of homeless people.  Lincoln's 14th. amendment failed to free the non-rated folks.

 Another thing about nomadic sleeping arrangements...  Nobody knew where any sonuvabitch was sleeping, so the below decks watch had to conduct some kind of nocturnal Easter egg hunt, to find all the poor bastards to rack out for watch relief.  The clown roamed around indiscriminately shining a flashlight the size of a Mack truck headlight in sleeping faces.

 "Zat you, Armstrong?"

 "Hell no, you dumb bastard.  Get that gahdam thing out of my face."

 "You know where Armstrong is?"

 "Wasn't my week to keep up with him.  Now, get the hell outa here, and take that f**king light with you!"

 And, so it went.  But the bastards always found you, eventually...

 "Zat you, Armstrong?"

 "Yeah...  Yeah...  Get that gahdam light out of my face before I rearrange your dental work."

 And so it went as the oncoming watch was rudely evicted from their temporary homesteads and stumbled around locating boots, ratty foulweather gear and pulled their watch caps out from the corner of the flashpad where everyone stuffed them when they crawled up on 'em to rack out.

 "Got a smoke for a working man?"

 "I'm not your gahdam mother."

 "Want to adopt me?  I'm cute and loveable..."

 "Pipe down, idiot.  You know where Stuke is sacked out?"

 "Check the after room."


 So, you stumbled to the after battery head to take a wake-up whiz, slap some water on your face to dissolve your sleepers and clear your eyes.

 "Hey you guys, you catch a whiff of those cinnamon buns when you rolled outta the rack?"

 "Yeah...  Hope the milk hasn't gone bad.  We've been out three weeks, so it should be headin' south about now."

 "Nothing worse than bug juice and buns."

 "Drink coffee, you simple idiot."

 One thing was always in short supply on diesel submarines...  Polite conversation.  Especially around 2345 at 412 feet below the surface.

 Eventually, you wandered into the crews mess and drew a cup of that bottom of the pot Maxwell House iguana plasma that passed for coffee when you were underway.

 "Hey Murphy, you make this coffee?"

 "Yeh, what of it?"

 "Whadidja use, Yugoslavian army socks?"

 "You know why they don't send donkeys to college?  Nobody likes a smart ass."

 "That's it Murphy.  It's over between us.  Give me back my engagement ring."

 Midnight inane, go nowhere conversation between the best friends you would ever have.

 "Hey, toss me a couple of those buns."

 "Say please."

 "Don't make me have to come in there and part your hair with a gahdam GDU wrench."

 The buns were always hot, sticky and fresh.  Never had better before or since.  It was like living next door to the best bakery in town.

 "Anyone know how Chicago's doing?"

 "They were three games out when we shoved off.  Check with the radioman...  He gets stuff like that from the squadron."

 "Watz the weather like topside?"

 "Whadda you care?  The old man's standing night orders don't call for us to hit the surface until 0800."

 "Murf, any dope on where we're gonna put in?"

 "Mr. Caldwell said for me to give him a list of anything I needed besides milk and eggs, and Quesada said the old man and Mr. Hall were going over a chart of the waters off Nova Scotia and looking at the approaches to Halifax."

 "I like Halifax.  Lottsa good looking gals...  Good beer...  But colder than a witch's tit in the winter."

 "Damn ice hockey land.  Who in the hell can figure out that game?"

 "Get out of her Danny...  If it doesn't involve dice, cards or shooting raccoons out of trees, it's too complicated for a dumb hillbilly like you."

 "Murf, is there anything in that navy cookbook of yours concerning anything you can turn out for mid rats but cheese, green-edge balony and mayonnaise sandwiches?"

 "No...  The guys on the 8 to 12 are making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches."

 "No, the guys on the 8 to 12 are eating evening chow leftovers and raiding the cool room."

 "Yeah, but no cinnamon buns."

 "You've got a point...  Any milk gone bad?"

 "Not yet..."

 As time passed, more ragged, unshaved men in tattered dungarees arrived, yawning and wiping sleep cinders from their eyes.

 "Jeezus, why can't you ugly bastards make some decent, fresh coffee?"

 "That's great stuff...  It separates the weak-hearted from the real boat sailors."

 "Dex, you must have the IQ of a retarded fruit fly."

 "Nah, if I was that stupid, I'd become an IC electrician from New Jersey."

 The chief, who spent his watch smoking cheap, stinky cigars, drinking coffee, talking about stuff that happened before you were born in somethinng called the 'old navy', came in and dumped a load  of raw wisdom and old coot philosophy on us.

 "How come section three always sounds like a kindergarten class on the playground?"

 "Because in the old navy, back when stupid ugly men joined the navy to keep from going to the pokey, they got issued defective ears to match their defective eyes."

 "No chief, you spend five to ten years with your big E-8 lard ass planted in front of the hydraulic manifold smoking reject cigars and your thought filter gets clogged up."

 "Okay, okay...  You bell-tapping bastards get your worthless butts forward and relieve the watch.  We won't be taking her up on the roof until after sun up, so let's hit it."

 You slipped a napkin-wrapped cinnamon bun in your pocket and pulled out your pack of smokes...  Lit up and ducked to get through the watertight door to enter the control room.

 It was all long ago.  We were very young, but years have passed and somewhere we passed through the invisible curtain and without realizing it, became members of that mythical band of brothers known as the 'old navy'.  Old bastards with lard asses who get together now and then, and wonder about the 'new navy'.  Hmmmm...