Pactor Babe's Got Her Ears On
I'm swimming upward from deep, deep sleep and surface into the reality of my cozy, comfortable forepeak. My eyes snap open. I'm tired, very tired. It's still dark. My PDA is blinking and beeping insistently. I consider winging it through the open forehatch to hear a satisfying-but expensive-splash. Instead, I sigh and squint to see its screen. "Jim WX, 4 megs" it says. I rest my head back on the pillow and turn to look at Carolyn.
Her dark, Italian hair frames an untroubled face. I look at her for a long time. I owe her. She was 15 years old when I first lured her into my cockpit. Now she's 55, and far more lovely on every level. I couldn't have become who I am without her.
"Hey," I say and walk calloused fingers down an alluringly exposed shoulder. "How's my Pactor Babe this fine morning?"
"Tired," she mutters, flops away from me, and snuggles her pillow. "I hate the America's Cup. Do it yourself."
Carolyn is my radio officer. We took the exam for our amateur-radio licenses together. At the last moment, Carolyn snatched back her test paper and changed an answer. My score was perfect, 100 percent. She missed one. I happened to "let this slip" a couple of times so all the sailors in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian oceans knew. This infuriated her. Thus she continued her radio-theory studies to get additional licenses and, ultimately, to become a volunteer examiner for the Federal Communications Commission.
I didn't say anything for a long time, but I could tell she was still awake. Finally I whispered, "This takes knowledge, skill and, well, some level of competency and technical expertise-which pretty much eliminates a macho techno-nerd like me. I'm just here to, well, act as a sort of pleasure toy for the crew."