Thank Heaven for Naughty Girls

by Bob 'Dex' Armstrong

It was rough, if not damn near impossible to maintain a long distance romance with your high school squeeze when you were serving the Goddess of the Main Induction.

Why? Well first, any kid back home flippin' burgers for minimum wage looked like Daddy Warbucks compared to a smoke boat alley rat… And he sure as hell was more available. By the time I got Dolphins, thus being returned to the life of freeborn citizen of the land, the young ladies back home were well established in college. The last thing a sophisticated, young college co-ed needed was for Popeye the Bluejacket to show up on her doorstep with a sack of dirty laundry and a plan to remove her Playtex Living Girdle.

Somewhere in the legendary third week, love turned to lust and you started having rapid-fire fantasies… Most of which involved activity in the back seat of a '53 Chevy somewhere in the woods known only to you and Daniel Boone. We're not talking Cinderella-Prince Charming type romance… The prince had all the time in the world, a big castle and no problem with money. We were at best, working on a 72-hour pass, sleeping in our car and doing our damnedest to stretch a twenty.

At some point, one of your shipmates introduced you to the world of commercial romance. This whole new concept allowed you to budget for the relationship and have all the rest of the day to catch up on anything you had to do. This is not the sort of thing romantic novels were based on… Didn't involve poetry composition or Montovani music, but a 72-hour liberty was enough to cover multiple visits.

The one thing you could never count on from any of these professional ladies was mail. Hookers just don't send you letters… The best you could hope for was change for a fifty. Or if they found your neckerchief hanging on a ceiling fan blade, they might hang on to it until your boat got back from punching holes in the ocean.

I had a girl who wrote letters. There is a special place in heaven for girls who took the time to write submarine sailors (Girls who sent PERFUMED letters get a room with a view and breakfast in bed).

The lady will remain nameless since she has now been married for over 30 years, raised a couple of fine young men, has a lovely home in North Carolina, and couldn't give less of a damn about an old after battery rat in need of packing and several sets of O-rings.

At sea, I used to write to her. I would sneak a little personal time, engage my romantic coupling and turn out what had to rank with the all-time, most romantic letters ever written by a hotsacking E-3.

Mr. Nautical Subsurface Sailor… Sir Alley Rat du la Wirebrush would write epic "To Be Continued" journals of day-to-day life in the thrilling unseen craft that plowed below the Seven Seas, holding back the Red scourge that was bent on the destruction of the entire free world. Sometimes I would engage a little literary license and pad the importance of my role in the saving of mankind, decency and the American way of life. You see, very few red-blooded American girls with a V-8 set of fully functional hormones would understand the global defense implications of wire brushing verdigris off the urinal flush valves, not to mention the mission critical disposal of one and two-way trash.

I would write about what was happening, while it was happening… Sort of a diesel boat "You Were There" epic. Sometimes these diaries would reach 30 or 40 pages… You couldn't mail the damn things so why not bolt 'em together back-to-back and daisy-chain the sonuvabitches into a monster sea story… A profession of undying love and lustful affection… Taking essentially nothing and forging it into major bullshit.

I kept it tucked under the corner of the flashpad, of whatever rack I happened to be bunking in. Then I'd go on watch, only to return later to continue my literary masterpiece.

"Darling, we've been down for ten days. We are engaged in an exercise where we are a target for naval aircraft. They fly over and drop little explosive devices that go off with a loud noise… This allows us to measure the proximity and determine how accurate their attack run was. Here they come again… BLAM, BLAM!… BLAM!… BLAM, BLAM, BLAM!! It will be a few minutes until the next run…"

And so it went… Horsemanure laminated on top of horsemanure.

One night, I came off watch, pulled off my foul weather jacket, lit up a smoke and was starting to pull my rubber boots off when I heard this hilarious uproar coming from the messdecks. Guys are laughing their asses off! It sounded like while I was on watch, Bob Hope must have crawled out of the GDU. Every two seconds, another roar of laughter… Jeezus, something must be funny… Can't wait to get these boots off and catch whatever is going on that was so gahdam funny.

I step through the watertight door by the galley when I see EM1 John Class standing on a spud locker bench reading my letter to the assembled mob of unworthy, lowlife sonuvabitches, collected there to ridicule true love in its purest form.

I did my damnedest to get to John. One of the most fortunate things that ever happened to me is that I never got close enough to grab John Class. He was a light heavyweight all-navy champion boxer. In short, the gentleman would probably have punched my nasal passages into my rectum.

"Oh princess, I love you… Hear they come again… BLAM, BLAM, BLAM! (Big roar) Don't forget what you promised… BLAM, BLAM, BLAM! You didn't say anything to your mother, did you? (Another big laugh.)"

John stops, turns to the crew and says,

"This should be a movie…Dex Goes to Sea…"

They didn't make 'em any finer than John Class… But at that particular moment, I would have "O-Jayed" the sonuvabitch with a smile.

Writing words on paper has gotten me in more deep doo-doo over the years than I could snorkel through. ...