The Spaces Between Your Fingers

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This is a memory of my father's from his days sailing with the Merchant Marines. He spent nearly a decade, from his early twenties to early thirties, sailing the world, meeting interesting people, and narrowly escaping near-death experiences. <br />
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In his decade of sailing, one person who stands out most prominently. This is her story.

“I’m not sharing my shower with a guy who has crabs!” 

I can still hear her shrill voice yelling to the captain.

Fucking Joann Burton. A name as ugly as its owner.

I hated that psycho so much. That might sounds a little dramatic, but the woman made my life a living hell. And all because I didn’t want to bump uglies.

We started out on a good enough note. I remember we first met in Portland, Oregon. I was only 22 and getting ready to sail with the merchant marines for the first time. Joann had been around the block once or twice, so she helped me get situated on the California, our ship.

“Jim, you can put you bag in here,” she told me, secretly plotting.

Little did I know, the bathrooms on the ship were conjoining and we shared them with a shipmate. Even littler did I know, Joann was warm for my form. She was hot for my trot. She wanted to fuck. Here her entire plan was to find a way to go from sharing a bathroom to sharing a bedroom. The only problem, I wouldn’t bite.

I don’t know if it was the Roseanne Roseannadanna hair or the Summer teeth - some are here, some are there - but I always got a, “let’s just be friends” feeling when it came to Joann. That never stopped her.

Every morning she’d knock on my bathroom door and we’d have a little chat in the shared bathroom space, it was nice. Nothing too serious, just kind of shooting the shit. Eventually, Joann decided to crank things up a notch. She progressively wore less and less when she would knock on my door in the morning.

It was a bold move on her part, but it still didn’t work. I wasn’t going to budge. She did have a great body though; it’s not really important to the story, but it still feels worth noting.

So we were coming back from picking up oil in Alaska and headed for Panama. It was my first time visiting and the one thing everyone kept telling me is to check out the brothels. So naturally, I went to a brothel. And at eight bucks a night, it’s like they were practically paying me.

Panama was incredible, aside from the stowaways I didn’t realize I was sneaking on the ship. I got crabs at the brothel.

So naturally, I went ahead and did the worst thing I could have possibly done, told Joann about the crabs. We were sharing a bathroom together and it didn’t feel right keeping something like pubic lice a secret from someone I share a shower with. Before I knew it, she was already complaining to the captain.

When she said, “I’m not sharing my shower with a guy who has crabs!” She might as well have been saying, “How dare you sleep with someone who isn’t me!”

Eventually, I had to start using a different bathroom and she started hating my very existence. It was better this way.

I’m honestly kind of thankful. I can’t even imagine how mad she would've been if I got crabs after we actually had slept together.

A bathroom and a brothel

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1983
The California

This is a memory of my father's from his days sailing with the Merchant Marines. He spent nearly a decade, from his early twenties to early thirties, sailing the world, meeting interesting people, and narrowly escaping near-death experiences.

In his decade of sailing, one person who stands out most prominently. This is her story.

Decade: 1980s
Rating:
Recorded by Jimmy Williamson on March 19, 2018
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