Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Grandpa knew

My Grandfather was in the merchant marine. His father was in the navy. His father's father was also in the navy, as was a succession of tall lean men all the way back to the command of Farragut. We're of English descent, so I'm sure there was Royal Navy blood in there somewhere.

If you were to look at the wall behind the dining table in my Mother's house, instead of the usual ducks fake flying across the drywall, you'll spot a number of grayed but fascinating pictures of men with blank stares who strangely look like me and the old girl. The pictures date back beyond the time when I bought my first comic book or, before I was thought of as a possiblity, way back from different generations. In these pictures they're all wearing astute uniforms and sport facial hair that you know was never that clean or trimmed.

The pictures came from my Grandfather's house and I can remember him pointing and telling me what each of them was well known for. I heard the story of how his father worked six thousand days on the sea after he was washed out of the navy for drunken conduct. I heard that one dozens of times accompanied by stories of sea dragons and endless mists and Captain Nemo. I dreamed about the stories of exotic girls in far away places and the amazing and unreal times that never were tiresome to me.

My Grandfather died of throat cancer. His fingers were yellowed with time and nicotine. After his throat had succumbed to the mutation and the poisons had killed him, he left me his pipe. I still have it but I have never used it as he had. Seeing the pipe today reminds me of things he would tell me about those days long ago. Of course his introductions started in times well before his days, in more weatherbeaten years, and in somewhat sepia toned eras. He had an ability to wax about how men used to be wild and women were always under submission. It seemed that society in that sexist's revision was imbalanced. Sometimes I was outraged that the women weren't more vocal in his editions, but, according to the coughing old fool there was a common fantasy of reversal. So visceral were the fantasies that he stole from storytellers who spoke of strange deviations of common socially accepted male-female interactions through supernatural events, that for most of my childhood I'd look for such wonders whenever I found myself seaborne.

One of these stories involved a ship lost at sea. I never asked why his great grandfather was able to tell the tale since nobody in the story survived each telling. The crew were out of water and out of food, then he'd take a sip from his hipflask that my Grandmother had a blind eye for, and then he'd finish and at length describe how they were also out of booze. They sailed around the Atlantic for days dejected and without hope. It was then that they heard the most wonderous wailing singing voices. Gaining the direction from their weary ears, they navigated towards to voices and ultimately met their doom in the embrace of the Sirens. I could never do the story justice. The way he told each fantastic syory gave me the fear of attraction to anything and the suggesting that anything so alluring would surely have it's drawbacks and impending doom.

True enough, in reality, some women are sirens. Some women have the lure of amazing experiences and talent. They just beckon to be the ruination of a man. I always felt attraction to the doom embodied by the fantastic sirens, and would puff out my chest and flex my muscles and tell old Grandfool that I'd find a way to listen to the Sirens and not face a horrible death.


I'd boast that I could do it where others had failed, and he'd laugh and lean in and agree with me. Then he'd always pat my head and shoot me that smile I see in the mirror every day, except he'd have that glint in his eye, the glint of understanding and welcome fun.

Since then perhaps I am lost at sea and my magical invulnerability has survived me through countless Sirens, you be the judge.


Anonymous he's dead, jim! said...

Well, Ulysses found a way, but it involved the plugging of many ears and the lashing of himself to his bow such that, despite his great urges, he could stay on course.

Siren chicks are not all bad. We're just hard to figure out. Once you boys learn that merely listening to us without using your hands for a while can steer you through the most treacherous of waters. Once you've passed through the narrow channel, you'll reach those calm, balmy, open seas.

5:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

LOL! i do so love those stories, even though no one survived for the telling to get out, how magical is that?
i love the stories too where they had to walk 1 million miles in the snow with no shoes......

why do women have to be sirens? why can't a beautiful, smart, sexy woman just be that? why analyze the crap out of something? just keep it simple. why does she have to be a lure of ruination? i think men in general, if you're going to label a beautiful, smart, sexy woman as a siren, a lure to your doom, you just aren't that secure in yourself, your soul and essence.

i do agree you are lost at sea, hell some people are just lost up till the moment they die, hopefully you find your way.


6:36 AM  
Blogger J said...


Nope, not convinced really... get me started on fluoridation of our water, now there's a metaphor for most of the women I meet.

Mmmm, clean water, safe, tastes a bit funky, but what is that daily residue building up and why does the dog prefer to drink out of the toilet?

Could it be that he actually likes the taste of dirty water?

Fluoride is good for ya, right?



7:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fluoride is good for ya, right?


too much of it is also toxic!!! :)


8:27 AM  
Anonymous emmajanecole said...

LOL, the dog drinks from the toilet because it is his god silly!

9:42 AM  
Blogger emotional stew said...

Honey, don't blame the siren for what you want to do!

10:11 AM  
Blogger J said...

Harpies and fishwives take many forms.... :-)


5:29 PM  
Blogger Charlie Brown said...

Sirens, succubus and vampire-women are powerful. There's only one way to resist their powers : having experienced them. They're all the same virus I am now immune.

12:25 PM  
Blogger Memoirs of a Sheila said...

Love it. Your writings are so warm and nostaligic.

12:21 AM  

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