White Gloves, Chic Snipes and the Fickle Finger

by Mike Hemming
 
 

A bunch of us ended up in a hotel bar one Saturday night, sitting around drinking with nothing else to do. After a while some ladies our age came in, obviously from a wedding, all dressed to the nines. Gloves, heels, the works. We invited them to sit with us and they all wanted to, except one. But eventually they convince her to do it. So we do the 'where are you from' bit and such initial sparing. It does become obvious that these ladies will not succumb to our charms in any carnal way, but that's okay with us. You know how it is, sometimes it's nice just to sit and talk to the female gender after too long at sea. So we are doing just that, having a good time talking except for the one, she is just plain rude, so all of us are ignoring her. Well after a bit, in comes 'Loverboy', the sonarman who seems to score at will with any female he sets his sights on. So one of us says,

"Why don't you make a run on her (meaning the rude one)?"

Well, she IS pretty and so Loverboy makes his move. For quite some time all his advances are rebuffed. The rest of us are having a good time knowing that this is a nice interlude with some nice ladies and nothing will happen. But in the meantime we are pinging lightly on Loverboy asking,

"What's the matter, something wrong? Can't handle the pressure?"

And so on. Well the other girls having heard his nickname start needling him too. At this point, where he knew all was lost, his reputation and pride wont let him quit. So on he goes, getting cold looks and put downs right and left. Finally wounded to the core, he gives up saying,

"Aw hell, I didn't want to eat your pussy anyway."

Well, it was like a switch had been thrown from the 'Ice Princess' position to 'Hotter Than A Firecracker' and she is now all over him. The rest of us including her friends, are aghast at what he said and dumbfounded at her reaction. It doesn't take long before they are off to get a room. Her friends can't believe it, one saying they will be back soon, with her being as nasty as ever. So we wait and chat, with the girls looking at their watches not believing how late its getting. Finally, when the bar closes and the pair are nowhere to be found, the girls go to their rooms and we head back to the boat. On the way, we figure Loverboy and the girl were playing a joke, and he is back aboard and she's alone in her hotel room. But back aboard, he's not there and hasn't been seen. Oh well, hit the sack and sleep.

Daybreak, I go topside to drink my first cup, standing there with the watch, I look down the pier and say,

"Holy crap, look at that!"

Down the pier comes Loverboy. His whites are a wreck... Neckerchief missing, lipstick smeared everywhere, hat, jumper, trousers... They said in the After Battery, even on his skivvey shorts. Hickeys on his body in very interesting places and on his left hand and arm are a lady's long white glove. Dropping down the hatch, he throws the glove on a mess table saying,

"Loverboy wins again!"

And exhausted, staggers to his bunk.

Well the 'Love Glove' makes the rounds of the boat, shown off and joked about. The day we pulled out for sea, it was in the AER and was thrown into the rag bin. Some days later, I am heading aft after chow to sack out and Jake the EN1 in charge of the AER is wearing the glove.

Now, to say that Jake was old, fat, bald, sweaty and ugly is only telling part of the truth, he was worse than that. But he looks chic with his elbow-length white glove on and smoking his cigar, I must admit.

When I come to take the watch, Percy, Jake's relief is wearing the glove now. Percy a big bellied black man is also looking chic now. Not to be left out, I don the glove on my skinny, sweaty arm, so I too can have some class. The donning of the glove becomes a ritual of assuming the AER watch. This goes on for the rest of that cruise. With the stills down, and no showers in the heat of Gulf Stream waters, the glove goes yellow, brown then to almost black. And it stinks... With the sweat of three smokeboat snipes soaking into it 24 hours a day. But it is faithfully worn until the maneuvering watch is secured.

Finally off comes the glove, and unable to throw it away, it's tossed again into the rag bin.

Fast forward to the next 'let's go bore holes in the ocean again' cruise... Well, this one is going okay until the AER has a run of bad luck. Cold snorkel starts, blown air box covers, high vac and low RPM shutdowns, you name it and it happens every 'commence snorkeling'. Jake in particular had the worst time of it. So finding the 'Love Glove' in the bin again, I set to work on its last incarnation. Stuffed with rags itself and taped to an overhead pipe, with the middle finger extended in the 'Hawaiian Good Luck' sign, with its own little sign that read,

'THE FICKLE FINGER OF FATE WATCHES OVER YOU'.

Because it 's aimed at all of us it stays up, to be seen and laughed at even by the Old Man. In fact, one day he stops and asks,

"is that the 'Love Glove'... The one and only?"

I answer. He just shook his head and went forward. Soon after, one day I looked up and 'The Love Glove' was gone, no one would admit taking it, but it was gone. I have two theories what happened to it.

One, Loverboy who left about that time, took it, and it's now laying bronzed in the bottom of his closet.

Or Two, somewhere at sea, a snipe is looking very chic in his long 'white' elbow-length glove.

 

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