Saturday, September 22, 2012

Chatter Box

Allison  listened graciously

"How has your day been?" I knew she was talking to me since I was the only person in Social Pie and Pub.

It was 4:45 and though no yardarm was in sight, the sun was well above Baltimore's nearby Cross Street Market. It seemed a reasonable time to see what was on draft but the pub was curiously deserted, other than a young woman tending bar while busily tapping away on her phone.

Be careful when you ask a single hander about his day. Thirty minutes later Allison knew all about my day, my week, my month, my summer. I jabbered away, enjoying the sensation of talking to someone other than myself. She revealed that she was flying to Nassau to visit an aunt. Well, wasn't that a coincidence since I am headed there, too. We had a jolly time talking about beaches.

It had been a mostly silent sail from Havre de Grace. I try to avoid extended conversations when no one else is there, though if the topic is really interesting I am tempted to hold forth. NOAA weather radio is an exception. I find myself chatting with Tom -- he's a synthesized male voice and can be so full of himself -- and expressing doubts about his view of the future. "15 knots, yeah, right. That's what you said yesterday. It was dead calm." Donna -- the other voice -- doesn't get as much air time and may be new at her job. I don't want to hurt her feelings, so we're not quite so close.

Ron and I gave lots of advice
 on Chris Parker's call-in show.
This chatting with the radio started in the Bahamas a couple of years ago when Ron and I headed off, leaving our girlfriends behind.

Around six AM he would stir and I heard the scrape overhead as he rigged the antenna for the Yachtboy, a shortwave receiver that let us listen to single sideband. I made a pot of coffee and served each of us a cup and then we settled down to listen to the weather.

Ron graciously donned headphones to tune the radio and in the process eavesdropped on some good old boys who ran a breakfast call-in SSB club. He would chuckle now and then and occasionally share a comment like, "They're talking about refrigerators" or chain saws or whatever. If it was a particularly spirited debate he turned on the speaker to reveal voices with a twang that would corrode titanium and a fascination for the trivial that nearly rivaled that of George Town cruisers.

Then Chris Parker came on the air and we would incline toward the radio and quiver like bird dogs who have scented a covey of quail. The reception came and went with squawks, bleeps, and other electronica while Chris discussed the week to come in general and then focused on each section of the Bahamas. When our section came by Ron made cryptic notes. Then the fun started.

Various sponsoring vessels contact Chris to say where they want to go and Ron talked back to them, "You want to go where?" or "Give up now," or whatever seemed appropriate, often contradicting Chris' polite replies. After a while I would chime in -- really, it is an irresistible sport -- and we conducted a spirited debate with those poor souls who only wanted a little advice about the wind and seas. Fortunately, we had no microphone so no one in the anchorage approached with an awkward question as to whether we were those two jerks who keep stepping on the weather.
Then the wind came up and I . . .

There are only so many beaches in Nassau. When Allison's eyes glazed over I knew it was time to head off to dinner at Matsuri, a nearby sushi place. The chef didn't have much to say but I knew he was listening since he nodded a lot as I held forth.

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