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The Joy of Double Standards

Fatty not only has double standards, he can be two-faced.
Fatty not only has double standards, he can be two-faced.

I have double standards. There – I admitted it. In print. For all the world to see. Yippee! The reason I did so is because I don’t want to be a hypocrite. Of course, I am a hypocrite.

When you do something stupid, I think, “What an ass! What an idiot! What a fool! Why doesn’t that guy/girl remove themselves from our collective gene pool before they cause further problems by reproducing?”

When I do something stupid, however, I’m a tad more compassionate. “To err is human,” I say breezily, and then repeat the words my therapist used to mouth (for $140/hour): “Don’t beat yourself up over it, Fatty. Don’t sweat the small stuff, especially since it is all small stuff!”

The beautiful part about having double standards is that they can be applied to so many different situations. There’s no end to their flexibility.

For instance, your vessel sails slow because you are a poor sailor. Your vessel looks shabby because you are a poor ship’s husband.  And everyone treats you poorly because you deserve it.

My boat, however, (even if she is much slower than yours) is NOT slow. It is seaworthy – that’s the buzz word we use for boats that sail like half-tide rocks.

The reason my vessel looks like hell isn’t my fault either. It is the designer’s fault, builder’s fault, shipyard’s fault, boat boy’s fault – whomever!

Those rust stains on the foredeck? Who knew that the lesser grades of galvy contained steel? All the topside scars? That’s because the bastards downwind of me are always dragging up and damaging me! That green tint on the topsides? Well, a sailor has to puke somewhere!

I hate to say it, but most other cruising sailors travel to uninteresting places and do, at best, uninteresting things. I am different. I travel to trendy spots where cool people hang out. How do I know? Because I am there! Easy, eh?

Oh, double-standarding (I made up the word, which is my right as a commercial writer) is fun! Take longevity of living aboard, for example. I’ve lived aboard 52 years. Thus, I don’t have to be civil to anyone with less experience. Alas, I recently bumped into a 74-year-old British sailor who had me beat. I dismissed him with, “Pathetic! He’s intimidated by shore! How sad!”

Which isn’t to say I wasn’t interested in him. I was. In fact, I asked him as we parted, “Call me or drop me an e-mail when you die!” so I could wear the crown without fear of contradiction.

It infuriates me when people can’t accept the simple fact that I am right – about everything, always.

Why is that so tough? I mean, it is obvious, isn’t it? And yet people struggle against it. Fruitlessly – even the gay ones!

I am, I admit, a high school dropout who only attended a few years of dreary grammar school, but what has that to do with my ability to judge others? Nothing! Thus, people with less education than I have are ‘mentally disadvantaged,’ and people with more education than I are ‘stuffed shirts.’

I hate people with initials after their name! Sure, I could write, “Fatty Goodlander, S.O.B” but why brag?

Double standards are especially useful for sailors living on double-hulls, paying double money, and constantly laughing disparagingly at us sailors who heel. Frankly, I find catamaran sailors doubly vexing. I mean, would any sane person want to sail across the Atlantic on a sea spider named This Side Up?

Trimaran folks have, obviously, multiple personalities – at least one of which is an ancient Polynesian god. That’s why they are always showing off their Pacific language skills with their AKKA and AMMA talk.

My buddy Russ Brown sails his proa across the Pacific as wind and whim strike. Here’s a designer-guy so confused by naval architecture that he can’t decide which end of the boat the rudder goes on, for gosh sake!

The beauty of all this is that each mariner gets to look down his nose at someone else. For instance, the fellow on the motorsailor (delimitation of motorsailor: a vessel which does neither well) gets to look down his nose at the stinkpotter (definition of stinkpot: a vessel which would like to merrily spew more carbon in the air, if only gasoline wasn’t getting so damned expensive!)

Both types of vessels, of course, like to travel to quiet, pristine, seldom-visited coves – and unexpectedly give the kayakers there immense, life-endangering wakes. Ah, yachting!

Once, while anchored peaceably in Nirvana Bay, a Hell’s Angel dude with the skull-and-cross-bones on his PFD zoomed up aboard a massive Harley Davidson jet ski, ran over my 93-year-old mother swimming astern, crushed the knee caps of my daughter dangling her feet off our swim platform, and amputated three of the fingers of our grandchild while putting vicious scrapes in our topsides and loudly demanding to know why we sailboaters gave him no respect.

“Because you didn’t take the USPS’s Safe Boating Course?” was my rather tepid response.

But it isn’t others who are the main problem with the marine community, it is ME. That’s right – the pompous, know-it-all cruising sailor is the very worst of the lot.

Let’s start with the dishonesty. Have you ever heard a circumnavigator say, “I am going to sail around the world and inform everyone I meet that they are total idiots – because they aren’t doing everything exactly as we do back in New Jersey.”

No? Neither have I. But that’s what many of our ‘cruising good will ambassadors’ do on a daily global basis.

Next, cheapness.

There is nobody cheaper than a sailboater – nobody! That’s right, Scrooge was wildly extravagant in the opinion of most circumnavigators. They are so tight they squeak.

I was recently tied to a fuel dock in the V.I. during a busy holiday weekend when a working guy in a tinny (aluminum skiff) refueled. We started talking. He worked construction and liked to fish. When he paid for his gasoline, he also purchased a can of Coke and some potato chips. He thanked everyone, smiled, said goodbye, and left.

Nice guy. Next up was guy aboard a 180-foot racing sloop, which cost more than Costa Rica. About a dozen boats had to move to accommodate his gleaming craft. His crew was dressed in nautical-themed tuxedoes and wiping down the varnish with fresh, fluttering hundred dollar bills.

The hopeful dock jockey had, needless to say, dollar signs in his eyes. He had the diesel fuel hose all ready and unrolled, but the stick-boat owner stalked past the fuel pump with his nose in the air and said, “What is the temperature of your soft drinks?”

Yes, he had a pocket thermometer, and, no, the can of Coke was only 35 F… not cold enough! The chips were three grams lighter in weight than similarly priced chips at a competing marina.

“Do you think I am a fool?” he demanded of the dock jockey as he stomped angrily back to his zillion-dollar vessel and departed, “that I don’t count my pennies just because I own most of Europe, Asia and much of Africa?”

I, personally, attempted to console the dock jockey immediately afterwards – and was in the middle of doing so when a fuel truck backed down the dock and stopped beside my vessel.

The dock jockey appeared stunned. “What the f#@k?”

“Calm down,” I said as I took the hose from the driver. “Competition is good for America!”

“But… but… this is a fuel dock…”

“Exactly,” I said. “And that is why I chose it to refuel!”

We were, of course, prepared to act fast. As the dock jockey ran ashore to squeal girlishly to the main marina office, I concluded my business with the driver briskly. Perhaps a bit too briskly, because by now the harbor water was all rainbow-colored around me.

“Stop! STOP!” I could hear the dock boy screaming as I roared one way in my sailing yacht, and the gypsy fuel truck the other.

Actually, I almost collided with the USCG ‘emergency response’ vessel arriving, and the EPA helicopters filled with the SWAT team settling down from skyward.

“Gosh,” my wife said as the batons flashed evilly. “That dock guy was amazingly frisky, but there’s no denying he’s a red-blooded American now!”

“Don’t fret, my dear,” I yawned. “He was probably a communist or anti-capitalist, ACLU member, or some such societal scum!”

Landlubbers are so silly. I mean, why Occupy Wall Street when you could Occupy Mustique and Occupy St. Barts and Occupy Monaco?

Of course, having a marine-based double standard soon rubs off on other areas. For instance, I dismissively refer to other give-away marine publications as ‘fish wrappers’ and yet sing the praises of this one as ‘affordable literature for the informed sailor!’

See how mastering this double-standard business immediately puts me on a higher plane of consciousness than my fellow sailors?

Here’s an additional example: when I read an article like this elsewhere, I dismissively say, “Sophomoric!” That is, unless the byline is mine – and then I laugh so hard my stomach aches.

Editor’s note: Fatty and Carolyn Goodlander are currently in Grenada, panhandling on the dinghy dock of Mount Hartman Bay.

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