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The Funny Thing About Being Funny

I didn’t set out to be funny. In fact, I don’t even know what funny IS… and I expect if I did, I wouldn’t be. Writing marine humor is a curious business. There’s no way to scientifically qualify it. And, alas, it has a lot to do with ego. To a large degree my oddly-fulfilling career as a sailing humorist depends on my ability to believe that what I think is funny IS funny… and if you don’t agree, you’re an idiot!

The troubling fact is that some people——who appear otherwise sane——seem to agree.

I have fans. This makes me nervous. Nonetheless, I have carefully studied my geographically and culturally diverse fans and come to the conclusion they have only one trait in common: lack of judgment.

Recently I was chased through the streets of downtown Auckland by two former Caribbean sailors screaming “…electric honey!” and waving tattered-but-carefully-preserved pages of the Budget Marine catalogue at me.

“…kiss me full on the lips,” one was shouting, while the other ranted, “…freedom is my drug-of-choice too!”

Evidently they’d both had some sort of psychotic breakdown offshore… during which their already-bent sexual fantasies had merged with some technical writing I’d done for a local marine retailer… and they’d never recovered.

“…listen to this one… it is one of my favorites,” said one fan to the other while reading from a fluttering catalogue page at full gallop, “‘Hose clamps can be used to clamp hoses..!’”

“Brilliant,” cried the other, “he cuts right to the bone!”

…wouldn’t this make you nervous? Of course! And I didn’t even remember the ‘electric honey’ throw-away line… only by searching my hard drive did I discover I’d used it on these very pages five+ years ago in an article about Chagos.

“…let’s get together and have group sex with your wife and daughter,” they shouted at one point when they thought they had me cornered. “And we’d like our… our… well, we’d like your personal autograph in a personal place!”

Of course, I attempt to keep an open mind. I don’t rudely punch people JUST for saying they enjoy my writing——but I DO make a precautionary fist.

I mean, the nerve of some people.

Brooklyn Vito of Wanderer, an Amel 52, recently introduced himself with, “…my wife says you’re not as stupid as you pretend… but I disagree.”

“…nice to meet you,” I said lamely, “and I take it you are familiar with my work?”

I recently got back a manuscript submission (Carolyn calls them my ‘homing pigeons’ because they always return) with a note from the editor which said, “Do you realize, Mister Goodlander, that trees have to die so you can write this dribble?”

Yes, rejection is stressful. Recently one of my stories was returned with “This is the worst story ever written!” angrily scrawled across its cover page. To demonstrate to the editor his remarks hadn’t hurt nor discouraged me I quickly sent him another story… to which he replied, “I need to revise my previous comment.”

There are times when I think everyone is taking pot-shots at me… even my wife.

“The interior of Wild Card is a mess because my delusional carpenter/husband thinks this is six inches,” she recently said sarcastically with her thumb and forefinger barely apart.

That sad fact of the matter is that, even after 37+ years of sailing offshore and living aboard, we have some issues… mostly about timing.

“…too slow,” I shout at her immediately afterwards… as she says to me, accusingly, “…too fast!”

Yes, it is a shame when the marital arguments, no matter how short, last longer than the act.

Let’s be totally honest, okay? Female orgasm is a myth perpetrated by woman-libbers to make men feel guilty… that’s a proven fact!

Seriously, the fact that my wife has any expectations at all… proves they’re unrealistic ones.

But, damn, being married to her can be ego-bruising. “My husband is a realist with extremely low self-esteem,” she recently told a friend.

“He’d have to learn a hell-of-a-lot to be merely dysfunctional,” she told another.

“He calls nodding-off and drooling at the same time ‘multi-tasking,’” she complained to a third.

And she’s always Zen-messing with my head, “There are three types of people in the world, Fatty, people who can count and people who can’t!”

How could any man put up that?

I mean, I get insulted at the strangest times: I was at a funeral and as one of the pall-bearers was lowering the casket into the grave, he whispered, deadpan, “I thought you’d be funnier.”

I was anchored in Tahiti when a large, palatial motor yacht went by and its skipper remarked on Wild Card over his mega-watt power-hailer, with, “Gee, she doesn’t look so bad… considering how long she’s been incompetently sailed!”

Even my daughter Roma Orion, light-of-my-life, got into it at the end of a recent phone call by asking, as I was informing her we wouldn’t be back in the States any time soon, “Why are widely-accepted clichés like ‘distance makes the heart grow fonder,’ so often wrong?”

My mother, who is 87 and blind, turned down an offer to visit her in California with, “…maybe in five or ten years, Fatty… right now, I’m busy having fun with friends!”

Today I cleared out of Fiji for Vanuatu. As I entered the last government office, the open-mouthed cus toms official was staring out the window at Wild Card. I told him that he was looking at my yacht and I wanted to clear it out. “Surely, sir, you jest!” he said. “Suicide is illegal in all the former Colonies!”

Thus I was a tad bummed as I returned to Wild Card.

“Don’t worry,” my wife Carolyn consoled me, “You’re just having one of those utterly miserable days when you get what you deserve!”

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