A Flashback Friday Presentation

I was the chief cook & bottle washer. Or, in Naval parlance, Mess cook. Indeed not the chef. Culinary expertise was not called upon aboard the Psyche to serve the Cap’n. The guests may have had other expectations, but it was the Capn’s Ketch, so the cook pleased the skipper. On these cruises, cooking was basic. I only acted as a steward on Friday night, serving whatever Cora ( my mother-in-law) had prepared in advance. On Saturday, breakfast was the prescribed pancakes with wild Maine blueberries and maple syrup. I’ve been able to cook those since my Boy Scout days. Lunch almost any day was King Oscar Sardines and sea biscuits served with hot tea. Saturday evening, we usually planned to anchor in a harbor and go ashore for a restaurant meal. If we ate aboard, it was B&M Beans and Oscar Myer Franks. Sunday was cold cereal with whatever milk remained in the icebox. Lunch was sardines again.

The guests frequently complained about the meal plan, and I just shrugged. They were his children, and they knew from experience how set he was in his ways. They hoped that, as a relative outsider, I might be able to persuade him. But I’d fallen for this game a time or two early in my marriage. The Cap’n would put his foot down, and the children would close ranks with Daddy against the interloper. So I just smiled, shrugged my shoulders, and secretly ate from my stash of hidden food items.
I’d learned in the Navy that what geedunks ( sweets and specialty items not served at meals) the ship sold were not necessarily what I wanted. So I had a private stash. As in the Navy, so too on Psyche. You might think I’d share with my wife, but after she insisted that I share my stash with her brother, I became cagey. Yes, I know you’re thinking, why didn’t they bring a store aboard? Great question. I don’t have an answer except that the hunt for mine was so much fun. And they were lazy.

They knew the stash existed, and she would ransack my seabag when I was up on deck, but she couldn’t find it. But I knew she was closing in on my hiding spot, so I got nasty about the entire thing. Before we left for a weekend sail, I hid a few “special” items where they could be found, but not too quickly.
Saturday afternoon, I came below to find that they had located the cupcakes and the granola bars. My wife and her brother were sitting at the table, contentedly munching away. My brother-in-law generously offered some to me. I refused but sat there with a smile, watching them eat. After a bit, it occurred to them that something odd was going on when I reached into the engine compartment, dragged out some of my stash of chocolate bourbon bonbons, and started eating. I watched them intently. My brother-in-law stopped eating and pulled a strange face; reaching into his mouth, he pulled something between his teeth. “what’s this?” “Well,” I commented, ” when you eat chocolate-covered ant cupcakes, you have to expect a leg or two.” My wife continued eating the cricket granola bar but began scrutinizing it. As one, they bolted for the companionway and then to the rail where, as we say in the Navy, they “chummed the fishes.”
As soon as my wife recovered enough, she began screaming to Daddy about what a jerk I was ( accurate). For once, she got little sympathy from the Cap’n. He fell off course, a once-in-a-lifetime event because he was laughing so hard.
That evening we had to go ashore for dinner. Nobody trusted me enough to eat anything I might cook.

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