Joseph, Did You Really Drink Singapore Slings?

i sat in the dark in my comfortable non-reclining chair, reclining…sort of. It was in what is called, i think, the “family room” after being a “den” for as long as i can remember. Either took the living out of the “living room.” Blythe’s mother and i once owned a home in Bryan, adjacent College Station, Texas which had a “great room.” It was a living room and den/family room combination. Cool idea, but it wasn’t particularly “great.” Good plan, though.

But i digress.

i’m sitting in the darkened room with only a night light on the other side providing any light at all. You see, we’ve had smatterings of rain through the day, and some more serious stuff, like may a quarter of an inch predicted through the night. Kidding, right? Rain in the Southwest corner at the end of September. RAIN! Folks, this is Santa Ana season, when the highs sitting over us brings desert hot air, zero humidity, and high winds we call “Santa Ana’s” after the long ago Mexican egotist who killed Davy Crockett at the Alamo and eventually got his just due from Sam Houston: Tennesseans, you see. It is supposed to be wildfire season and the weather guessers keep playing it up while wearing rain gear.

But i digress. You have probably figured out by now that i digress a lot.

Because i sat in the darkened room and simply let my mind rest and roam, thinking about all of the things on which i could digress.

But i digress.

The Padres penultimate game in a season disappointing to most was long over. Maureen had gone to bed so she wouldn’t have to watch the end as that as been a continuing depressing couple of innings nearly all season long. i, being a contrarian and an old, old sports writer, take a different slant. This has been one of the most interesting teams i’ve ever watched in any sport. i found the drama interesting. And the old sportswriter remained true to his rule of watching all sports events to the end, because as Yogi Berra said, “It ain’t over ’til it’s over,” and what i thought was generated by Casey Stengel but, in fact, was first uttered by Ralph Carpenter, the Texas Tech sports information director when Texas A&M came back to tie the to tie the Red Raiders in 1976 for a 72–72 tie late in the Southwest Confernce tournament finals in 1976. The Red Raiders won 74-72, but Carpenter’s comment has become legendary, but Carpenter hasn’t gotten the credit he deserved.

But i digress.

For you see, in the dark of night, i closed my eyes and i saw things i could not see in the light.

After that ball game, i returned to Joseph Conrad, reading his “Youth: a Narrative” of a sea story of the 19th century gone south, about as bad as it could get. In years past long ago, i was close enough to understand.

i could feel it. Feel it.

As i read with intensity as the old hulk of a ship was meeting its demise. i could feel it intensely, intensely enough to stop reading for the night.

i closed the book, the short story would be completed. But not tonight.

When you are my age and not an abject politician, i think most of us spend a great deal of time in reflexion of our past.

Sitting here in the dark, Joseph Conrad and i reflected. Mr. George Dickel of Tullahoma, Tennessee helped us along. And i thought of Conrad and how he could conjure up tales of disaster in the Gulf of Thailand. i wondered how close he got to the dangers of those years with wooden ships, sails still competing with steam, and peril. My peril in my sailing days was slight compared to Conrad’s but when ti happened, it was real, very real.

i think there is a bond with sailors and the sea. i feel it when i read Conrad. i live with it as a part of me.

Thank you, Joseph. i think of you now. i thought of you when i was in Singapore in the old Raffles Hotel, your hangout. Because of you, i ordered the original Singapoer Sling in that bar where you sat with the one leather belt driven fans with arms of bamboo gently rotating quietly while the waiters in sarongs wandered about. Did you like these things that taste like sweet cough syrup?

Think i’ll stick with Mr. Dickel and gin martinis.

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