Thursday, October 19, 2006

9 January 1956

Eight-thirty already & once again plunging through surveys, inventories, quarterly reports, & short tempers. The captain has been sitting on a small slip of paper which, as you might guess, is absolutely vital in order for the invoices to be put out on time. He’s had it for three days now, during which time Coutre has chewed his fingernails to a nub & swears loudly with increasing gusto that he "wants off this damn, half-assed excuse for a naval vessel." Things will go along smoothly for awhile, & then he’ll turn around & say "I’m going over the hill in Gibraltar. I want off—out!" When he gets angry he glowers & threatens to put everyone on report; when Nick gets mad, or hurt, he pouts. When I get mad (rarely) I throw things—usually only paper. I have so much fun watching that I never bother getting mad.

"Markus," the Chief said today, "you’re too mature. You never enjoy life—when we hit port, you go over, take a few pictures, & come back for supper. I’ll bet you never had a childhood."

"Now wait a minute, Chief," I replied, donning my armor; "for one thing I don’t come back for supper, but if you can tell me anything else to do over here, let me know. I don’t particularly enjoy sitting in some bar & soaking up the atmosphere. I have fun. My major trouble is not that I didn’t have a childhood but that I had too much."

Ah, so…. I rather like that name, with a different spelling (Marcus—or however the Romans spelled it).

Coutre is presently reciting from a list of figures which flows over the chair & onto the deck—Nick is checking them against another list, in an attempt to find a missing $19.51. Mr. Clower is seldom around, & doesn’t seem to care much even when he is.

Tomorrow we anchor in Palma—let’s hope we are not too far out so that it will take an hour to get ashore (plus waiting for the boat). For some reason, the Powers that Be have been carried away with generosity, & extended our liberty until twelve midnight. Previously it expired at eleven-thirty. Bought five dollars worth of Spanish money—which has the lowest exchange rate I’ve thus far encountered in Europe—43 to the dollar. (Compared to 350 Francs & 625 Lire).

Their money is issued from the Bank of Spain though, as I’ve mentioned, their language is not Spanish. Like all European money, it has a watermark—though the bills are smaller than usual, they’re elaborate in a superficial way, & printed on the same paper as all European currency.

Their predominate colors are blackish-green & winter brown—the face being one color, the back the other.

Sitting here gorging myself on Fruit Cake which North, one of the bakers, brought up from a storeroom where it has been since Christmas—we didn’t make them ourselves but had them bought & shipped to us.

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