A YOUNG MAN AND THE SEA-THE SAGA OF LEAK POHLUPS, BABY SAILOR

As many of you may recall, assuming that you’re approximately the same age as a redwood tree, back in 1952 Ernest Hemingway wrote the final full-length novel of his illustrious career, called The Old Man and the Sea, which told the story of an aging Cuban fisherman named Santiago and his epic battle to catch and bring ashore to Miami a giant marlin, and by so doing fulfill his dreams of bringing Major League Baseball to South Florida and to further allow Derek Jeter to make another bajillion dollars. (Interesting factoid…Ernest Hemingway had a little known older brother named Frank, who unlike his famous sibling, was never renowned for anything other than having heterochromia and excessive flatulence. The brothers Hemingway…Frank and Ernest.)

Today I’m going to regale you with another story, the saga of a young man and the sea…a VERY young man.

Shipmates, please allow me to introduce you to Leak Pohlups, Baby Sailor.

(Okay, by show of hands, how many of you immediately Googled “heterochromia” to see if it was an STD? That many?)

Leak’s father was a Polynesian sailor named Cantdoten, who left his native South Pacific home abruptly one day right after Leak was born, to avoid prosecution as a serial gerbil abuser; Cantdoten’s sudden departure forced Leak’s mother Lotte, whose maiden name was Lenya, to earn a living as a clam shucker, having no other marketable skills with which to support herself and her infant son, who by the way, was named after his mother’s uncle’s second brother’s other cousin.

Life was hard for Little Leak and Lotte, but there was much love and all the clams they could eat in their humble shack on the beach; Lotte shucked and Leak grew and finally, at the age of 23 months, seriously tired of clam chowder, clam stew, clam steaks and clam shishkabob, Leak decided it was time to leave the nest and seek his fortune in the cold, vast world. (If this were a TV script, there would be a commercial break here, probably for some erectile dysfunction cure or a new burger from Wendy’s…the Clam/Mint Jelly Triple Stack or some such.)

(FYI, the giant clam Tridacna Maxima is indigenous to French Polynesia, as are humpback whales and manta rays; however, despite evidence to the contrary, rays are not indigenous to Tampa Bay.)

A few weeks ago I was sitting at my desk in the Captain’s cabin of the R U Kidding, of which I am the Captain and Master, which is probably why they let me have the Captain’s cabin, reading the news on the Internet about how “the Nads”, the varsity baseball team from my alma mater (that’s Latin for “buffalo antlers”), the University of Lower Rockdale, was doing in the college World Series; if they win in the next round against the Scottsdale Community College Fighting Artichokes, they will advance to the semi-finals, to play the Banana Slugs of UC Santa Cruz. (I didn’t make up either of those names…honest.)

Go Nads!!

As I was reading, I heard a knock on the door of my cabin.

“Enter,” I called out to the knocker, and in walked my First Mate, Taffie Wetzel.

“Cap’n, the new deck-hand just came aboard,” she said.

“Is that the guy from Polynesia, uh, what’s his name again?”

“Leak Pohlups, Cap’n.”

“Yeah, Lake Patos.” (That’s in Brazil, I found out later.)

“No, sir, Leak Pohlups. Sir, he’s awfully young…”

“When you say ‘awfully young’, just how young are we talking here?” I asked.

“He just turned two, sir,” Ms. Wetzel replied.

“Well, that’s the legal drinking age in Burma, and he can own a handgun in Florida at that age, so I guess we can give him a try. If he doesn’t work out, we can always toss him overboard,” I said, winking at her. (Would the lookout yell “Baby overboard!” if that happened?)

“Yes sir,” she said, a little dubiously.

“Show him to the crew’s quarters, get him a crib, er, a bunk and then take him around and introduce him to the rest of the hands. Have Ms. Shepard show him how to shiver timbers and batten hatches later this afternoon after noon chow. And when you’re done, Ms. Wetzel, please go see the cook and make sure he has a good supply of Gerber’s on board.”

“Aye aye, Cap’n.” Ms. Wetzel left my cabin shaking her head.

Later that day, the Kidding, with a crew of twenty, including myself, First Mate Wetzel, Second Mate Shepard and of course, Little Leak, set sail from this tropic port, aboard this tiny ship. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)

We were 6 days out from port, on a course south/southeast and making a leisurely 10 knots, just after 8 bells, which onboard a boat is just past 4:00am, or the third Tuesday of last week about 35:16 in the morning in Florida, when I was awakened from an excellent dream involving myself, the Dallas Cowgirls, a backhoe, a zither and a 55-gallon drum of Orange Jello by a firm pounding on my cabin door.

I struggled to come to, threw the covers over myself to avoid embarrassment and called out to the pounder, “Yes, I’m awake, come in already.”

The ship’s Senior Sonarperson, Wally “Big Ears” Poindexter came rushing into the room, obviously all worked up over something.

“Cap’n John, I just spotted a YUGE mass moving our direction from really deep water, on a heading of 350 degrees, making 45 knots right towards us. It was less than 25,000 yards away and I don’t think it’s a sub, sir.” (That’s the boat, not the sandwich.)

“45 knots? Are you sure, BE?”

“Yes, sir, I’ve been tracking it for about 10 minutes now; it’s like that women you dated when we went ashore in Somoa…she’s big, fast and ugly.” Probably all the cookies, I remember thinking at the time, because she was quite horizontally challenged, like the north end of a south-bound water buffalo. But I didn’t need my Senior Sonardude reminding me of my, uh, indiscretions at 4 o’clock in the morning however…I had been in a bar that night and was seriously over-served.

“Never mind that, Sonarguy…keep your focus on the problem,” I said sharply.

“Yes, sir, sorry, sir.”

“If it’s not a sub, then it must be an organic (well, d’uh); how big is this thing?”

“Sir, it’s bigger than a humpback.”

“I said to forget that woman in Somoa, sailor…oh, you meant the megaptera. But 45 knots, there’s no whale I know of that can move that fast. Are you sure?”

“Yes sir, positive. Sir, I think it might be a giant squid.” (Low, ominous music began to play in the background, which was odd, considering we didn’t have a band onboard.)

“Okay, let me get dressed and I’ll be down there in a minute.”

“Aye aye, sir.” BE turned and left my cabin as I jumped, well okay, crawled out of my bunk.

A giant squid? Holy 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Batman, I’d never seen one before, despite all my many years aboard ship. But I knew Wally was right…they were big, fast and ugly, just like that woman…never mind.

Well, this isn’t good, I thought to myself as I struggled into my cerise-colored Spanx.

(Narrator’s voice cuts in here.)

“Will the giant Architeuthis attack the Kidding? Will the Cap’n and his crew survive this menace if it does? And what about Leak Pohlups, Baby Sailor? What will his fate be on this, his maiden voyage? And isn’t Architeuthis Latin for ‘buffalo antlers’?” (No, that was alma mater, you dipstick.)

Tune in next time when we learn what happens to our brave Cap’n, his ship and crew and of course, Baby Leak.

Love and tuna casserole,

Cap’n John

IS THIS THE PARTY TO WHOM I’M SPEAKING?

A few years ago, on a warm, breezy early summer afternoon up in Northern Illinois where I was visiting at the time, on one of those rare and brief vacations I periodically take from my duties as the Captain and Master of the R U Kidding, I was at my youngest grandson’s Little League baseball game, along with some family members and friends, and as we were standing around at the concession stand in between innings the subject of then President Obama somehow came up in the conversation.

Not a good topic of discussion with that group…sadly, many of my relatives are God-fearing, 2nd Amendment supporting, right-wing Christian Republicans whose disdain for Mr. Obama was deep and abiding. Much like the Dude from The Big Lebowski.

When I made a comment that was critical of the President, (as I recall, it was about his lack of a strong foreign policy), one of them turned to me and said, “Well, you voted for him”, in a tone of voice that implied that they equated a vote for Obama with having regular anal intercourse with a llama.

Now it just so happens that I hadn’t, (voted for the man that is…who I have anal sex with is my business) but they all consider me to be a far-left wing liberal, which I’m not, based on my avocation for sensible gun control laws and their belief that I’m a Devil-worshipping heathen due to my lack of attendance of any church, and as a group they all turned to me and gave me the ol’ stink eye, as if to say “llama defiler”.

They had just made, in their world, the absolute worst accusation they could make against a person (the vote, not the llama thing), and I stood before them, in their minds and eyes a condemned Cap’n.

So I quietly told them, although I was loathe to say for whom I had voted, since like the llama thing it wasn’t any of their business, that I hadn’t, and then further told them all to go and perform an unnatural act upon themselves with a trumpet and walked off to go back to my seat.

Barrack Obama is a fine and decent man, a man with whom I would be proud to sit down and hoist a few adult beverages, although I thought him to have been at best a mediocre President. But I have to tell you, to me, the accusation of having voted for him, true or not, pales in comparison to some citizen with a “Make America Great Again” bumper sticker on his/her car, right next to the Jesus fish.

President Tweety Bird is going to screw things up in a major fashion at the rate he’s stepping on his johnson recently, to put it mildly…the man is a blight on this country.

The phone rang here at my place yesterday, and since I wasn’t home at the time I didn’t answer it; later on, after I had returned it rang again, so since I was there this time I picked it up…the caller ID said “His Eminence, 202-456-1111”.

The White House.

“Is this Cap’n John Krissongs?” a women’s voice inquired.

“Well, that depends on who wants to know,” I replied, thinking this was a giant hoax, and that it was actually Visa calling, using some kind of new “masking” devise so you wouldn’t know who was really calling; I tried to remember if I had paid last month’s bill on time, or at all.

With no other response, the voice said, “Please hold for the President”, and the first thing that went through my mind was, why would that horse’s backside Mark Zuckerberg be calling me?

Wrong guy. (Zuckerberg just thinks he’s President.)

I heard someone pick up the phone on the other end, and in that goofy, high-pitched voice of his, holy Hail To The Chief, Batman, none other than PTB came on the line.

“Cap’n John, may I call you Cap’n John, this is President Trump, how are you today?” he said.

I was at once shocked and wanted to hurl at the sound of that voice, but I regrouped quickly and said, “Sure, if I can call you President Tweety Bird.”

“Well,” says PTB, “that’s a little rude, don’t you think? I am the President, after all.”

“Okay, out of respect for your office, how about if I call you Mister President Tweety Bird?”

“How about if we make it ‘Cap’n John’ and ‘Your Eminence’?” he replied, with a rather snotty tone in his voice. This is the Great Negotiator? I thought to myself.

“Here, let’s go with ‘Cap’n John’ and ‘Pres’; how’s that sound?” He grudgingly agreed, and away we went.

“I’m sure you’re wondering why I’m calling you this afternoon,” said Pres, and I told him that was the understatement of the century, to say the least.

“Well, I wanted to reach out to a number of journalists and bloggers like yourself, people with a yuge number of readers who I hope will be unbiased and assist me in spreading my message of bullshit, sorry, of making America great again. As you probably know, I’m having some trouble with all the “fake news” media people like CNN and those lyin’ bastards at the Washington Post and the New York Times always misrepresenting what I’m saying and the things I’m trying to do as the Supreme High Commander of the World, excuse me, as President, and I was hoping you would help me out.”

Fat chance, Orange Boy, I thought to myself.

“Pres, I didn’t vote for you in ’16 and on top of that, I pretty much think you’re pond scum and a miserable excuse for a human being; I can’t imagine why you chose me to speak with about this.”

“You voted for Crooked Hillary?” he exclaimed indignantly. 

“No, Pres, I wrote my own name in for President on my ballot; I wanted the best person for the office, which is why I’m going to challenge you in ’20, assuming you’re still around then, which is looking more and more unlikely every day.”

Given how easy it is to distract PTB from whatever topic he’s supposed to be addressing once he feels insulted, which is most of the time, the conversation took a hard left turn here, sans the benefit of the appropriate turn-signal.

The Dodgers have started the ’18 baseball season at a blistering 4-7 pace, and so far look like they could contend for the NL West Division crown only if there’s some kind of Divine intervention, which would obviously have to come from the depths of Hades, given that I’m a devil-worshipping liberal to my relatives up in NoIL.

Oh, the rest of my conversation with President Tweety Bird? That’s continued until next time.

What, you guys never heard of a cliff-hanger?

Love and Presidential seals,

Cap’n John

 

THE MAYOR OF NORTH VERNON COULD PLAY

That’s Grandpa Howard, first row, far left, and my great-uncle Cliff immediately next to him, 2nd from the left. Circa 1905ish.

The 2018 baseball season starts on Saturday, 3/31, and with that momentous occasion, another year of joy and frustration, of soaring highs and withering lows, of pitching changes and pop-flies, legging out a double and midnight-to-six curveballs, of watching the effin’ Dodgers most likely choke another one away, begins.

Baseball, still and always the national pastime to me, is in my blood; my maternal grandfather, Howard Daringer, as well as his two brothers, my great-uncles Clifford and Rolla, played professional baseball; he played in the old Three I League (Iowa, Illinois and Indiana), and later managed the North Vernon IN Reds, a Federal League team. Grandpa played for 12 seasons, having his best year in 1913, while playing for the Dubuque (IA) Dubs; he batted .343 that year, with 36 2B, 8 3B and 8 HRs, had a .494 slugging percentage and amassed 173 hits in 137 games. He won the III League batting crown that year, for which he received a gold-plated baseball bat with his name and stats etched prominently on the barrel. Uncle Cliff played for the old St. Louis Browns (later the Baltimore Orioles) for two seasons and Uncle “Roll” as we called him (pronounced “Raal”) played for the Cincinnati Reds for several years as well.

Howard, back row far right, as manager of the North Vernon Reds, 1922.

After he retired from playing in 1920, Grandpa went on to manage the NV Reds team for a number of seasons, occasionally filling in for one of his players on the field as well; sadly, I haven’t been able to find any record of how long he managed, but after a very successful career, he went on to run the biggest department store in Jennings County IN (the “biggest” being a somewhat dubious distinction, given the sparse population of rural southern Indiana back in those days) as well as being elected County Clerk for Jennings, holding the position for 8 years before he moved on to become Mayor of North Vernon for another 8 years.

My fave memory of Howard was playing catch with him out in the front yard of the NV home where he and his bride, my grandmother Margaret, who everyone called Maggie, lived for nearly 70 years, a man well into his 70s by then but still with some pop in his arm. Maggie died back in 1975 and Howard followed her in 1981, and I still miss them both today.

I remember Grandpa telling the story of a friend of his there in North Vernon who was the editor of the North Vernon Plain-Dealer, and the three-legged pig.

The editor, so the story goes, had heard accounts of a farmer whose life had been saved by a pig, said animal being something of a pet to the farmer and his family, and Ed decided to drive out to the man’s farm, which was way out to hell and gone in the eastern part of the county, and get the whole story.

He pulled up to the farmhouse in his Model T that day and sure enough, there was Farmer Fred out by the barn, feeding the hyenas or milking the horses or doing some kind of farm animal-related activity.

The men greeted each other, chatted about the weather for a few minutes and then Ed asked Fred, hey, what’s this I hear about you having an accident recently; he could see where Fred still had some scrapes and bandages on his hands and arms, and he was walking with a discernable limp. Fred says, yep, just two weeks ago (apparently news traveled REAL slow in rural Indiana in those days) it happened. Yeah, says the newspaper guy, what was that?

Well, says Fred the Farmer, I hitched ol’ Jake to the plow that morning and headed out of the yard to go break the middles out in the north 40, and we was comin’ through that little patch of meadow right over there, when I reckon it was a black snake, you know we got a lot of them out here, wriggled out into the path in front of Jake, spooked him so bad he reared right up, knocked me off the plow on my back and then ran me over when he turned and charged off down the path. Knocked me out cold.

In the meantime while the men were talking, a three-legged pig ambled out of the barn and sat down there in the barnyard. Yeah, says Fred, ol’ Porky there, he saw what happened, ran over to me, couldn’t get me to move, so he runs in the house and somehow gets Bessie and my oldest, Horace, to come out to where I was layin’ in the road. Meanwhiles, I stopped breathing for a few moments, and I tell you, Ed, if that durn pig hadn’t dragged my Bessie out to me, I woulda’ died right there I’m pretty sure. They got me goin’ agin, her and the boy, and here I am today, ‘cause of Porky. That pig is a hero, believe me.

Wow, says Ed, that’s a helluva story…sure glad you’re okay. Say, Fred, uh, how did Porky lose his leg?

We durn near have adopted him since the accident…he’s a family pet now, says FF. He eats with us, and sleeps on the floor in the boy’s room at night. Yessir, that’s one very special animal, let me tell you.

Yeah, okay Fred, but you didn’t answer my question…how did the pig lose its front leg?

Yep, he lays on the floor next to my chair at night when we’re listenin’ to the radio, just like a dog almost, comes up and nuzzles your hand if he wants attention, drinks beer out of a bowl just like Bessie does, he’s a corker all right.

Fred, how did Porky lose his leg?

Why, we even took him to church with us last Sunday, dressed him up with a little bow on his tail and one around each ear, looked as cute as a button. ‘Course, the preacher was a little put-out, told us it wasn’t fit to have a pig in the Lord’s House, but I wasn’t havin’ none of it, tole that Reverend Gantry that Porky is my new hero, and had as much right to be there as Missy Albright’s pet llama, which she drags into Sunday service just about every week, for gosh sakes. I’m telling you, Porky is a member of the family now in my mind. He’s a great pig.

By now Editor Ed is getting pretty exasperated with the farmer. Fred, he exclaims, for goodness sake, HOW DID PORKY LOSE HIS FRONT LEG?!?

Oh, says Fred the Farmer, Porky is special, and you don’t eat a great pig like that all at once.

According to my grandfather, the story never ran in the paper, and Editor Ed retired the following year and moved to Cleveland, became an Indians fan and was never heard of again in Jennings County.

I think the Dodgers have a good chance of winning the NL West again this year, but seeing as how all the other teams in the division seemed to have improved over the off-season, they could easily step on their johnsons and disappoint me once again.

Well, it’s time for dinner…I was thinking about having ham.

Love you Gramps…miss you a million.

Love and porcines,

Cap’n John

AS AMERICAN AS BASEBALL, MOM, APPLE FRITTERS AND WHAT’S THE NAME OF THE GUY ON FIRST

Well, I am happy to report that the Welcome Aboard The R U Kidding blog is, as of today, Sunday, October 8th, 2017 CE, officially one week old. 

Please commence with the obligatory celebration, with all the attendant frivolity thereto included.

Our next goal here at the WATRUK blog is to make it through another week, and then reassess our position.

By now most of you who have been following my adventures this past week have probably figured out that I am, in no particular order, a) a BIG baseball fan; b) a RABID Los Angeles Dodgers fan; c) a huge believer in both sex and apple fritters; d) a BIG baseball fan and e) all or none of the above.

If you chose “e”, you’re probably a Republican.

Now I am extremely fortunate with regards to apple fritters; as I mentioned in a recent post I am currently employed part-time as a “Front Service Clerk” for Publix Supermarkets here in jolly ol’ New Port Richey FL. (When anybody asks what I do, I tell them I’m in the Publix “CEO-in-training” program. I figure, with my skill set, experience, talents and all-around “good guyness”, I should be ready to ascend to the President’s office in about 35 years, making me a youthful 101 when I take over the reins. Hey, by then, 101 will the new 93.)

What I really am is a “bagger”, and of course, Captain and Master of the Kidding, thank you.

I’ve been there almost a year-and-a-half now, and so far no one has ventured an explanation as to what duties accrue to the “Rear Service Clerk”, assuming the existence of such a position, and I’m fairly sure I don’t want to know either way.

The bakery at Publix 420 in Chelsea Place (sounds like a fashionable London address) makes the absolute best apple fritters ever, in the history of flour. I never buy them, mind you…too much sugar, and sugar and I have a long-standing mutual animosity; when I eat too much, I get fat. It’s ugly.

And it’s a damn shame too, because I  apple fritters…even more than sex even. (Okay, about as much…well, maybe not quite as much but sort of close to as much. Practically but not quite as much. But close.)

So the apple fritters are covered, should a sudden craving for fried flour, sugar and apples overcome me someday as I stand, busily bagging our customer’s groceries, smiling, happy in my duties, content in my existence.

Rather gives you a strong desire to yark, doesn’t it?

Sex on the other hand (you’ll pardon the completely unintentional pun) is a little more difficult…let’s just say that in the two years I have been living here in bucolic NPR, I apparently haven’t overwhelmed the ladies with my charms, such as they are…if you can find the path that they’ve beaten to my door, you’ve got better eyes than I have. (Insert large sigh of resignation here.) I just hope it doesn’t have anything to do with my little peculiarity…(see pic below).

I was watching the opening game of the L.A. Dodgers/Arizona Diamondbacks Divisional Playoff series the other night, and during the game, they trained a camera on the VIP seating section, where Vin Scully, the legendary announcer for the Dodgers for almost 70 years before his retirement after last season, was sitting with his wife.

If you know anything about baseball, you know who Vin Scully is, and if you know who he is, you probably have a favorite story about him…here’s mine.

Back in ’07, the Dodgers brought up from the minors, during the September expansion of the roster, a player from Taiwan that they had signed several years earlier, to give him some “big league” experience during the waning days of the season.

His name was Chin-Lung Hu.

I was watching the Dodgers/Padres game the day this young man debuted, and as soon as he stepped into the batter’s box for his first at-bat in the majors, and Vin said his name, I was already on the floor, laughing my ass off…I could see what was coming, and what made it even funnier was that you could tell, by the smirk in his voice, that Vin could see it coming as well.

Sure enough, Chin-Lung takes a couple of pitches, gets a fastball he can handle and lines it into left field. As he stands on first base, and after the ball he hit had been thrown into the dugout for him to have as a keepsake, Vin did it.

I don’t remember his exact words, but it went something like this…in his famous Southern California drawl, the Vinster says, “Well, everyone, I can’t believe I’m saying this, but here goes…”

“Hu’s on first.”

By now I’m in tears and there’s a wet spot starting on the front of my shorts…then it got better.

Because all I could think, as I sat there, literally on the floor next to my chair where I have landed, laughing hysterically, is that if Vin says Chin-Lung is married, and his wife’s name is Betty Lou, I’ll need CPR before I’ll able to get my breath again.

Love and sacrifice bunts,

Cap’n John

Post Script…Cap’n John now has an email address (yeah, I know, 1990s technology, what can I say, I’m working on the other shit), so if you want to communicate directly with the Master of the Kidding, I can be reached now at capnjohn@krissongs.com. All good-looking women are encouraged to send messages, and pics if available.

Post Post Script…here, this will make your day a little better… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yWZpOsUq_BI

Post Toasties…Dodgers up 2-0 on the hated Arizona DBacks as of last night’s win…next stop the NLCS.

!!!!GO DODGERS!!!!