It was a spectacular sunset and I was enjoying
a little peace and quiet in the office until I received a call from Procurement about a problem. Apparently Captain Crane
was at odds with something and was headed my way, spreadsheets in hand.
In wasn’t the first time, I groaned
inwardly. Having granted, well, okay, insisted, that he add some NIMR administrative duties to his job description as Seaview’s
Captain, he took his additional duties a bit too seriously. I found myself reminiscing about a slight, shall we say, confrontation,
with him just a few months after he’d first joined NIMR……….
‘It’s not that I’m partial
to yellow, Lad,” I spoke to Lee, or at least tried to, “it’s just that it was…”
“On sale,” Lee Crane interrupted, “and used. Admit it. “
Lee had been fussing that I’d favored
Army Surplus too much for most of our supply needs, but that was hitting below the belt.
“For your information,” I used
my best command glare (well, it worked most of the time), “I found it on
sale at Wetsuits- R- Us. You can’t fault me for trying to save the Institute a little money, especially the way you
abuse neoprene. We needed to order a new team leader wetsuit.”
“The swordfish was not my fault. Neither was that bed of agitated coral. And if you were going to purchase a wetsuit, why not a new one? And did it have to be yellow?”
“There’s nothing wrong with
“I overheard Ski saying that I looked
like an over ripe banana,” Lee pouted.
For a moment I wondered if the poor crewman
was scrubbing out the bilges as I hid my amused grin behind my cigarette. Still, it
wasn’t like Lee to take a personal comment so personally, so I let it slide, telling myself I might as well take down
a ham sandwich to Kowalski as a kind of peace offering ( just in case). And after all, it was
close to lunchtime.
“It’s a done deal, Lee,”
I said, “I grant that I might have chosen a new suit but the bargain was just too good to resist….as for the color,
you didn’t complain about it on your first dive with Seaview.”
“I thought I was temporary, and the
suit was so badly damaged by that squid that it was unusable after. Of course I didn’t complain.”
“A dive leader should stand out from
the group, you know that. I can’t think of a better color than yellow.”
leaned his hands on my desk and bent forward. For a moment I felt like a raw recruit expecting him to order me to drop and
give him 50.
not a banana!” he hissed, “what’s wrong with blue? Surely they
had some wetsuits in blue.”
“None in stock,” I lied.
“Sorry,” I inhaled deeply on
my cigarette. (Lee had tried to get me to quit, so this was a fitting way I thought, to
flaunt the fact that I was the boss, not he.)
“Why can’t I just use your silver
one?” he pleaded.
“Because, and you know damn well,
that it was measured for me personally. It won’t fit you.”
“So what if the legs are a little short…”
“The yellow wetsuit is for whoever
the dive team leader is. Don’t take it so personally Lee.”
“And just who is the usual dive leader? Me, that’s who,” he
scanned the spreadsheet, “so,” he sighed, “ how much did you
save NIMR for the monstrosity? It doesn’t say here.”
“Enough so that we can use the difference
for Morton’s birthday party.”
And that had pretty much settled things. Even so, months later, Lee still
takes objection to the yellow wetsuits I can still get on special. He’s gone through so
many now, I’ve lost count. They’ve been torn, ripped, and infested
with algea, but at least he doesn’t complain about them anymore. Much, anyway.
I guess he’s come to accept the fact
that if he looks like an over ripe banana, especially with his black hair, he
might as well accept it.
My mind back to the present, he barged in,
the procurement clerk in tow. I
was surprised to see Cookie and Kowalski with them, so I guess Ski never was on bilge duty.
“Did you order a gross of dried banana chips?” he waved the spreadsheet in my face.
“What’s wrong with them? I got
a good deal. It pays to buy in bulk.”
“They’re from 1969, that’s
“This is the kind of packaging they
used for the Apollo Space Program! See, right there, NASA, Apollo 11! Some of
these snacks might even have been on the moon!”
“Well, as long as they’re all
still sealed, Lee, I don’t see a problem. No air, no bacteria, no spoilage,”
I said, proud of my expertise.
“Do you really want my crew eating something that was made before half of them were born?”
“Oh good grief,” I said, ripped
the seal open and dumped the contents on my desk in a puff of yellow powder which settled all over us. “They must’ve…er….dried out.”
““All right. All right. We’ll just have to figure out something else we can use them for, "he said while using
a handkerchief to wipe off the corner of my desk and sat down, “Admiral,” he continued, cooling off, “ the next time you think you’ve found a bargain
I’d really appreciate it if you’d keep me in the loop.”
“Of course, Lee,” I said, keeping
my fingers crossed. How on earth could I tell him now that the color for the new flying submersible prototype had already
“You realize, don’t you,”
he interrupted my thoughts, ”the crew’s going to have a field day with this. First, only my wetsuits looked like
yellow bananas, now the rest of me does too,” he brushed some of the yellow dust off of his hair and face .
“I’m sorry, Lee. I just…”
okay. I guess I kind of flew off the handle. Well, I don’t know about you, sir, but I could use some lunch. It’s
Double Dessert day at the cafeteria. What’s the special , Cookie?”
“Well?” I asked, concerned. Cookie
was positively red.
“Bananas Foster, sir.”
For a moment I held my breath, thinking Lee
was going to explode in rage. His face contorted into a multitude of expressions. Suddenly he began to chuckle, then doubled
over in laughter.
“C’mon sir,” he grabbed
my arm, “we’d better hurry before it runs out. “
And so Lee and I were soon enjoying two helpings
each of the delectable dessert. He’s not really adverse to bananas, the
way he finished off his dessert. He just doesn’t like looking like one.
“I wonder what’s going on over
there?” he asked as he saw some of the staff and crew begin to converge around the
menu board with Cookie and Kowalski as we departed.
I alone managed a backwards glance, which
has left me with a dilemma. He’s bound to find out sooner or later. There
for everyone to see is a chalk cartoon of a yellow wetsuit clad Crane holding a piece of ‘Banana’s Foster’,
or as it said with a hasty scrawl, ‘Banana’s Crane’.
Should I tell Lee that for now, and perhaps forever more at NIMR and aboard Seaview, he’s given his name to a famous
dessert? An edible accessory to the wetsuit he loathes ?