Phyllis and I were on a Caribbean cruse with a group of old friends. Included in the group were our son Jim, who was single at the time and the daughter of a couple of old friends on the trip. She was also single at the time. Phyllis and I had known the daughter, since before she was born. I will refer to the daughter as miss x, mainly because if I used her name she would kill me.
Phyllis had a problem with seasickness. She was ok when the ship was at anchor, but when the ship was underway she was likely to be seasick or pretty much out of it because of her seasick medication.
Late one afternoon when the ship was anchored off shore Jim and I were standing on deck talking to a little blond girl. It was hot and humid and the cool water looked really good down there. Someone said, “Let’s go swimming. It seemed like a good idea. The little blond girl said I’ll go get my swim suit and took off.
She didn’t get back in time. Just after she left miss x showed up. We told her of our plan and she immediately got into the spirit of it. She wasn’t wasting time with details like getting her swim suit. She just took off all her cloths and jumped over the rail.
Instead of waiting for the little blond girl to come back, Jim and I, being gentlemen, jumped in too. The three of us were enjoying the easy float in the nice cool ocean water, when someone evidently told the captain that some drunken passengers were jumping off the ship.
The captain evidently decided to teach us a lesson. He had the crew pull up the ladder that was used for boarding the shore boat and which was our intended route for reboarding the ship. He also had the engines started as though he was going to go away and leave us.
That would not have been the end of the world for us, as we could have easily swum to shore; although, I’m not sure what we would have done with the naked miss x upon arrival.
Losing our return route called for a change in strategy. I had noticed that the anchor chain was very large and that the openings in it were large enough to put a hand or foot into. I said, “Let’s swim around to the front of the boat and climb up the anchor chain.”
So, we swam around to the front of the boat and climbed up the anchor chain. Jim and I went first so as to minimize miss x’s exposure. The chain was routed over a pulley at the top and then down on a slant to the windless below the front deck.
As Jim and I went over the pulley and down the sloping chain, we noticed several crew members with a flashlight standing there watching our arrival. Then the naked miss x came over the pulley and started down the slope with the crew members shining the light on her, and watching her and no doubt enjoying it, as miss x looked good even in clothes.
Jim said to the crew members, “You shouldn’t be shining that light on her.” And, they took the light away. The three of us started walking toward the place where miss x had left her clothes, with Jim and I shielding miss x from view with our bodies as much as possible.
That night we were singing in the bar with the first mate, who was a real good singer and a nice guy. He said to me, “You really should apologize to the captain. You’re the adult of the group.” I said, “Ok I will.”
In the morning I knocked on the captain’s door. He said, “Come in.” I entered and said, “Captain, I want to apologize to you for jumping off the ship last night.”
I had expected that this would open a conversation where he would tell me what a dumb thing we had done, and how it could have gotten other passengers to doing it and he would talk about sharks and that kind of stuff, but he didn’t do any of that. He answered my apology with two words. He said in a crisp, military manner, “Apology accepted.” I could see that there was no need or opportunity for more conversation so I said, “Thank you, sir” and left.
Years later Phyllis and I got a letter from miss x apologizing for her behavior on this trip. This had evidently been on her mind for a long time.
I replied and told her that no apology was in order. I told her that it was one of the most fun things that I had ever done. I signed my letter “Your old ship jumpin’, chain climbin’, buddy, Brian.” Miss x is still a good friend, as is her dad. She is a mother and a grandmother, and she is hugely successful in her own business. We exchange emails on an occasional basis and keep the relationship up.
I am thinking of e-mailing her this writing. However, I’m not sure I should. She still might kill me.