Today is the second to the last day of my two week paid vacation from work. I’ve enjoyed it quite a bit. Didn’t really do too much. Mostly slept in and stayed out really late chasing after girlies and socializing with friends. I was supposed to spend time writing letters, look for a new job, work on the magazine, and finish up some artwork here at the studio. None of those things were accomplished. I’ve been a complete bum. I shaved for the first time in two weeks, yesterday or the day before. I can’t remember.

One of the things I had hoped to do during my time off was to go on some kind of a road trip to get out of town for a few days. I planned to see Ira in Nevada City and stay with him, then drive to Mendocino and stay at his stepdad’s bed and breakfast inn for free. I never got the chance to talk to Ira about it though. The last time he was here was on November fifteenth to see Chris’ band play at the Cotati Caberet and to celebrate his 21st birthday. I didn’t talk to him the next day because I was working or something. I wanted to call him later but I just found out from Chris that he moved down south somewhere in the vicinity of San Diego. I probably won’t ever hear from him again.

So my trip thing looked like it was going to be a total loss, but at the last minute I got invited to stay on a ship for the weekend. Then the weekend really turned into a total loss. Myself and Adam drove down to Sausalito yesterday afternoon and we came back today. We got there around eleven o’ clock. We stayed onboard this old steam engine tug boat built in the early 1900s and it left active service in the early 1960s. I don’t know when the National Park service took it over and declared it a national historical whatever.

There was five of us headed for San Francisco that afternoon from Sausalito. Fred, Bob, a kid named Shaun, Adam and I. We took the 5:05pm ferry boat from Larkspur to SF. From there we caught a Muni train to the Castro. We were supposed to have dinner at some little hole in the wall diner called Andy’s, but when we got there the place was packed with people. We ended up at a place called the Patio Cafe instead.

Everything was priced way too high on the menu and not much of it looked any good to me so I just got a hamburger. I felt uncomfortable because everyone in the restaurant was flamingly gay and the dinner conversation began to go South shortly after we were seated. I knew Fred and Bob were gay, but they act straight so I don’t give it much thought. Fred started talking about Michael. Michael was this super old guy that had been on the ship we were spending the weekend on. I guess Michael had worked on the ship since the dawn of time. Fred told us Michael was lecherously fruity and one afternoon onboard the ship Fred was walking between the bolier room and the engine room. Michael was waiting for him with his dentures out. Guess he wanted to go down on Fred then and there. I’ve seen Michael on a television show and he’s not nice to look at. The mental image I got during dinner was revolting. Before we left the restaurant a couple of skinflutes came in clad in leather from head to toe. Leather men. I don’t like ’em too much.

Being on the Castro that night bugged me. I’d never been there before and I was worried that every guy I passed on the street was turning around to check out my ass. Not good. Fred was messing with my mind a bit by saying things like “he was checking you out” and giggling about it as he said it. After wandering around for a while we headed back to the ship to stay the night.

The ship is in good shape for it’s age. I went all over the boat to check it out. Now that I think about it, there is one place I didn’t go. I didn’t go up into the wheelhouse. I tried to that night, but Fred had already locked it and I decided not to impose on him by asking him to reopen it. He said I could check it out in the morning but I forgot to ask him to let me in before we left. I did go through all the decks. The engine room was the most impressive out of it all. The engine itself is two decks high, about fifteen to twenty feet long, and say, six feet wide. Fred said it puts out 7,500 horsepower to a twelve foot diameter four-bladed propeller. The engine block was amazing to me because it looked so brutal. There aren’t alot of parts to it or excessive amounts of machinery in it’s structure. Just three pistons and three huge rods extending below the engine block to the main shaft. Each of the three pistons is larger than the one before it. The last piston, closest to the onboard machine shop is about the size of a 55 gallon drum in diameter. Maybe bigger.

The boiler room was hectic. It took up a large portion of the space in the lower decks and once you’re inside the boiler room there isn’t much space for you to move around. There isn’t much space on that ship anywhere really. I had to stoop over in almost every room to avoid raking the top of my skull along bulkheads, steel plates, and reinforced pipes. I’m really surprised I didn’t fuck myself up while running around in the boat. I think the whole time I was there I only busted my noggin once and it was minor.

I drank a little bit last night. Guess the fear of mashing my noggin into a bulkhead kept me aware enough to pay attention to where I was going. The toughest room to manuver in turned out to be the head. Since I had been drinking beers I had to go in there alot. The toilet was busted, so I had to keep pissing down the sink. The sink didn’t have any running water so I had to pour disinfectant in it each time I took a leak. Just before I crashed out for the night I had to piss one last time and I almost got locked in the bathroom. The side door to the head was locked from the outside, so to get in and out you have to go through the winch room. That door froze up on me when I tried to get out. Something got stuck on the latch. For a few seconds I couldn’t get the door to the winch room to open and I began to think I was going to have to spend the night standing up locked in the bathroom. I kept fucking with the latch out of desperation and luckily after a few minutes of panicked tinkering it came up. I was free.

I bunked down for the night in the Chief Engineer’s room. I had a really difficult time falling asleep. The whole hull of the ship is steel plates and inside below decks is mostly hollow open air. Scaffolds and cat walks lead to things here and there but besides the block of that steam engine it’s really empty. Sounds carried through the hull like you wouldn’t believe. The Chief Engineer’s cabin was on the side of the ship that was docked to the pier so I heard sqeaks, taps, and the ship bumping into the pier all night long. What really kept me awake though was the sounds of water splashing against the hull. It sounded as if the decks below me were filling up with the bay like the ship was sinking. I have always had a fear of being on a sinking ship and when I was a kid I used to have nightmares about dying like that. So for most of the night I would just start to fall asleep and then snap awake again. I must have got up out of bed and opened the door to the cabin dozens of times to look down over the railing into the bottom of the hull just to make sure we weren’t sinking. One of the times I got up to check to see if the hull was filling up with ocean water I just stood there for a few minutes listening. I started to zone out. I thought everyone was already asleep for the night but Adam startled the shit out of me. Adam had the door to his cabin open just a crack and he was shaving in a mirror. He saw me standing outside my door leaning on the railing and he asked me what I was doing. I didn’t want to explain to him that I was waking up every five minutes thinking the ship was sinking. So I said “nothing” to him and went back to bed. I felt really stupid.

Whoever the Chief Engineer had been, he must have been a four-foot nothing midget. The bed I was attempting to sleep in had a tiny mattress length-wise and to make matters worse there was a wooden box frame around the bed. No matter how tight of a fetal position I got into, some part of my body ended up laying across the wood. I just couldn’t get comfortable. Then it began to get horribly cold. I couldn’t stay warm in the midget bed. Add this all up and I got one of the worst nights’ sleep in my entire life.


~ by factorypeasant on August 15, 2004.

One Response to “12.14.1991”

  1. I am totally hooked! You are a very creative writer and have me totally engaged. You are one funny mother fucker and I find myself laughing out loud many times. I often hear the comment,”Are you still reading”?

  2. cool, LB. pretty much everything here is 100% as it happened way back then. glad you’ve enjoyed reading the journal so far. much more to come. before this becomes a real-time ‘blog alot more of my journals will be added.

    thanks again for stopping by and for the kind words.–>

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