In the middle of the boatyard, across from the Travelift, is a nightly gathering we call “happy hour.” It’s a misnomer, because it lasts a lot longer than an hour. Sometimes, it goes on all night, in which case it should be called “happy hours.” (That reminds me, there was once a boat here by that name. That story will come later.)
One evening last week, when I was alone on the boat, I poured myself a beverage and decided to take it to Happy Hour. I hate to drink alone, even if it’s just orange juice.
The usual suspects were sitting in a circle under Jack’s boat, four or five guys who take turns filling a communal cooler with exceedingly cheap beer. All of them are either single or abandoned by their wives for the duration of the haulout. The appearance of a human with two X chromosomes changes the dynamic slightly, as they sit up a little straighter and stop making fart jokes.
On this particular evening, we saw Peter, of GALAXIE, walking across the boatyard lugging a heavy item. “That looks like an alternator,” I said. The usual suspects looked at me with respect. Two X chromosomes, and she can pick out an alternator a block away. (They don’t know about the time one got dropped on my hand and smashed my wedding ring. I had it cut off, because it was no longer finger-shaped. The ring, not the finger.)
When Peter reached our group, the usual suspects said, “Have a beer with us.” With a sigh of relief, he set the alternator on a sturdy stepstool at the edge of the circle.
Peter, whose homeport is HAMBURG – GER, has a heavy German accent and a twinkle in his eye. Soon, we were all recounting our best alternator horror stories with much hilarity.
Along came a boat broker, intrigued by this jovial — and loud — gathering. “You guys must not get much work done,” said the man, who wore neatly pressed khakis, leather boat shoes, and a shirt with a collar. There was not a single drop of paint or epoxy on him.
Now, I have nothing against boat brokers — some of my favorite people sell boats for a living — but his comment put my hackles up. There we were, tired and messy from a day of physical labor, and he strolls up and impugns our work ethic.
I scowled at him. “You may not realize it, sir, but you’ve interrupted a very important religious ceremony,” I said, sternly. I can be quite a dragon when I choose, although the bright yellow Tweetie Bird sweatshirt diminishes the effect slightly.
The broker’s smile faltered, and he stopped, unsure if he was welcome. The other guys looked at me as if I’d sprouted another head. They’ve all seen me in dragon mode, and they know that I can bite.
I had the broker right where I wanted him. He was standing in front of the stepstool.
“Before you can come any further, you must pay homage to the ALTAR…” I said dramatically, pointing at the stepstool. The guys now looked at me as if I’d sprouted three heads, and I added: “…NATOR.”
My punchline was so unexpected that the usual suspects choked on their beer. Best of all, the boat broker was impressed enough that he actually did bow deeply, both to Peter’s alternator — and to me.