Thursday, March 29, 2012

Hands Aloft! Loose Topsails!

It's about time I got back at it. Haven't posted since Tuesday as I've been all aback, been in irons I have! (And my fellow Lexians will know what I mean!)

Yes, I tend to throw nautical terms about. And most of the time I know what they mean. The Nuke likes to say, "Yeah Dad, you're real salty." (And I don't think she means it in a complimentary way. Oh well.)

Actually ships and aircraft have fascinated me since I was a wee lad. I remember in 1st grade when we got the "what do you want to be when you grow up?" assignment. Of course, none of us could actually read or write back in those days (some claim I still can't) so we had to draw a picture of what we wanted to be.

There were lots of firemen, princesses, a few teachers and a couple of future police officers. One little guy (that would be me) had drawn a very nice picture of an aircraft, machine guns ablaze.

Teacher: "Oh, that's a nice airplane. But what do you want to be when you grow up young man?"

Me: "A fighter pilot!"

At least that's how I remember it. And it was true, I wanted to fly fighters when I grew up. Seeing the Blue Angels for the first time (they were flying the F-11 Grumman Tiger at the time) only confirmed that wish. Yup, that's what I want to do when I grow up!

Then, in the 6th grade, my childhood dreams imploded. Turns out that yours truly had, shall we say, less than perfect vision in his right eye. Left eye was okay, 20-20 as I recall. Right eye, way south of that. Of course, I asked the optometrist if I could still be a fighter pilot. The man had the courtesy to sadly shake his head no, telling me that fighter pilots had to have two good eyes. Oh was I bummed out. (Though that term would not be coined until much later in time, it describes, retroactively, the way I felt. Hey, this is a blog, not an historical novel!)

The Doc explained to my Mom and me that my glasses would be just plain glass for the left eye, with a corrective lens for the right. Of course, I asked my Mom if I could wear a monocle. I thought that would be pretty cool. Ah, no. We're not getting you a monocle. (And yes, I was a strange kid. Strange in an amusing and endearing way, not strange in a creepy or scary kind of way. In case you were wondering.)

So that ended the whole fighter pilot thing. (However, I do get to live that old dream vicariously through my kids, Big Time and the WSO. Both of whom, I can proudly say, wear Navy wings of gold.)

So not too much later, I discovered tanks. You know, the Army kind. Big heavy tracked beasts with a cannon. And wouldn't you know it, one July 4th our town had a tank on display. One you could actually climb around on and get into. While I didn't actually get inside of the monster (too many other kids), I did get to sit on the turret. And that was awesome.

I never did get to be a tanker. But that is a story for another day. And in the future we'll talk boats too, des affaires nautique. (And yes, sometimes I will throw terms around in other languages. And most of the time, I know what they mean.)


  1. I always wanted to join the Royal Navy. s a kid I'd be drawing ships, i could i/d most ships of the RN (we had more than a few in those days) and I could sketch a mean Fairey Swordfish (I'm not THAT old btw). I applied at the same time my best pal applied for the Air Force (same recruiting office) I was contacted for consideration of an officer cadetship, was interviewed, got the offer but it was conditional on me staying on at college to finish my engineering diploma (they'd have paid me!) and that's when it happened....somebody hit me on the head and 3 months later I woke up in the Metropolitan Police Cadet Corps. Hey ho, I might have gone down, badly, in the Falklands..... or anywhere. We're never at the briefing when our fate is being planned. I'm lucky I'm typing this!

    1. and guess what, I've used the above and turned it into a post over at my place. Amazing what you can get away with. Thanks Sarge ;)

    2. HD, I know so well what you mean. Had things gone down a different path I could have wound up in the jungles of Vietnam. And to be honest, I'd rather not be at the briefing where our fates are decided. In that one way, I would prefer the surprise. Knowing one's fate before hand would not please me.


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