I finally got my grubby mitts on the cruise book from my 2012 deployment onboard USS New York. I’ve spent the past four years since my escape from the navy trying to track one down to no avail. Normally I wouldn’t care about about such trifling matters, but I helped make this book and was miffed because I never got to see the culmination of my efforts. I separated from the service before the book was printed and no one bothered to send me one. That’s gratitude for ya!
If you’re wondering what a cruise book is its like a yearbook but for the military. This analogy is especially apt if you realize just how similar high school and military service can be. For instance in both cases gossip is rampant, many don’t want to be there, and cliquish enclaves are formed.
Anyways, this book brought back plenty of memories. Some were good, some were bad, and all were interesting. Here are a few of the highlights:
1. I’ll start off with the tale of a gross girl the guys in my shop nicknamed Animal Planet. Animal Planet was in her early 20s and married to a young Marine that was on another ship in our battle group. I doubt their marriage lasted because during our eight months at sea there were rumors of her infidelity. Wait, did I say rumors? I meant documented instances of philandering! I won’t go into too many details but on one occasion she was caught with a male Marine in her rack (shipspeak for a bed) which is a huge no-no. Her nickname came about one evening while lounging in the local Houlihan’s on the island nation of Bahrain. Animal Planet walks in with some Marine and they head to the dance floor to show off their moves. They start grinding on one another and before you know it she’s on all floors and this guy is dry humping her doggy style. One of my pals remarked “its like something you’d see on Animal Planet” and the name stuck.
4. Another memorable shit-head was the fucking redneck homophobe who slept under my rack (for any landlubbers reading this racks are stacked three high). He was covered in shitty tattoos of bible verses which normally I could overlook except he would boast about fucking prostitutes in various ports. Nothing says Christian like supporting the import and exploitation of Filipino women to be used as sex slaves amirite? As if that wasn’t despicable enough he had a wife and young kid. Even more terrifying is he planned to leave the navy to return to whatever jerkwater he had crawled out of prior to enlisting and taking as a sheriff’s deputy.
3. Then there was the helicopter pilot who was a male bimbo. He embodied just about every stereotype I had about military pilots (tall, handsome, and brimming with confidence) but left me flabbergasted with his lack of knowledge about simple technology. He needed a CD burnt once, and when I dragged the files off the disc he asked if I had just erased the CD. It blew my mind. How the fuck did this guy manage to fly a helicopter?
4. The best part of any cruise, besides getting home, is port visits. Since I did photography onboard I had it pretty sweet whenever we pulled in somewhere. I could always justify leaving the ship to take pictures for the cruise book, and I never let it interfere with my own adventuring.
While visiting the Seychelles I ate a bat and got sunburnt so bad my back turned purple. I went on a three day bender in Spain, and skulked around a souq in Dubai. I even ascended the world’s tallest building which was a sphincter clinching experience for someone with my fear of heights. I always had a pretty good time because I didn’t end up like the pair of idiots who were ripped off while we were in Naples. They met some guy at the end of our pier who they thought was selling iPads. Upon returning to the ship and examining their wares they realized they had been fleeced and in fact had been bamboozled into buy boxes of rocks. When I heard about this I laughed until my sides felt like I had been on the receiving end of a beating because I am an asshole.