Phillipe celebrated the wonderful weather of a week ago by embarking on a cruise aboard the University of Rhode Island's research vessel, Endeavor, which was taking a last trip of 2008 to run out beyond the three-mile limit to clear out its sewage tanks before returning to get a sprucing up at Quonset Point over the next few weeks.
Ever the able seaman, P. appropriately appeared dockside with eye patch, inflatable parrot on shoulder, billowy-sleeved white pirate shirt, feathered hat, and cutlass at the ready. He was then cruelly informed by the crew he looked less like Captain Jack Sparrow and more like Puss in Boots, but despite the slur, your superior buccaneer took to the ship nonetheless.
P. was welcomed aboard by Admiral Sam, Captain Bruce, First Mate Shanna, and Casa Diablo All Stars and rulers of the galley, Mr. Mike and the Pogey Princess. The latter two informed P. that he was what was referred to by crew members as a JAFO: Just Another Fucking Observer. He was joined by five other JAFOs, who were immediately given safety instructions — e.g., don't fall overboard — as the Endeavor headed out of Narragansett Bay for the open ocean.
The first order of business was to practice donning a survival suit, a.k.a. "Gumby Suit," since the wearer does appear to be an orange version of the legendary TV character. This process involves laying on the rolling deck to slip the bulky foam suit on and then standing up again, wildly flailing your now three-finger mittened hands for balance. This exercise most reminded P. of the time years ago when he became mightily over-served with Sazeracs at a Mardi Gras party on a balcony above Reverend Zombie's House of Voodoo in the French Quarter of New Orleans, and insisted on swapping clothes with a 300-pound transvestite, but that's a story for another day.
As the ship headed into the Atlantic, with seas running about 10-to-12 feet, whipped by gusts of about 40 mph, waves washed across the stern deck, crashing over the bow, which raised both eyebrows and a number of breakfasts, as Technicolor yawns became the order of the day for a few of the JAFOs. Phillipe held his ground and muffins on the bridge, however, rolling ball bearings together in his hands in his best Captain Queeg impersonation, while also frantically confessing all the sins he could remember committing of late while praying for any God with a few spare minutes on His hands to save him.
To cut a long story short, confidence returned once the Endeavor had returned safely to the shelter of the Bay with little mishap. P. was also able to have amused the crew with the amazing trick of having his face turn totally white when confronted with shrimp cocktails in the galley just as the ship enjoyed a roll seemingly out of The Perfect Storm, and descending a stairway from the bridge in an inadvertent Ensign Pulver imitation, with only his hands touching the railing as he sailed over 10 steps and almost broke his ankles upon landing. Still, he received high marks from the observing crew, provided weeping with laughter is now the way Olympic officials tally up style points.