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Fish or Cut Bait

Been There; Done That; Didn't Get the T-Shirt
By Bob Ciminel


February 17, 2006

Back in the mid-Sixties when I was a twenty-year-old submarine sailor, the Navy Submarine Service had a tradition similar to those practiced by many fraternal organizations in those days. When a sailor qualified in submarines and was awarded his "dolphins," the metal insignia worn on the chest, he was expected to undergo a rite of passage known as "drinking your dolphins" the next time the ship entered port.

Once liberty commenced, the newly qualified submariners and the old salts headed for the closest bar, usually the enlisted men's club, to conduct the ceremony. Each former NQP (non-qualified puke) had his dolphins removed and dropped into the largest glass in the bar, which in some cases was a Kool-Aid pitcher. The container was then filled with a shot of everything behind the bar and the lucky sailor had to upend the container and catch his dolphins in his teeth without spilling the contents. The results were predictable.

jpg Bob Ciminel

Bob Ciminel taken in 1966, "Somewhere under the Mediterranean Sea."

The Navy tried to ban this right of passage when people began dying from alcohol poisoning, but met with limited success. The initiation ceremony continues to this day, although not as openly as before. Other branches of the service have identical initiations, but some involve considerably more pain and greater risk of injury or death. Sailors being sailors, we tended to stick with what we did best, which was drink.

Yep, we thought we were pretty cool back then. We would drink ourselves into stupors and rely on our shipmates or girl friends to get us safely back to the ship. We called it "steaming." As I look back on these escapades, I realize how stupid we were, but we couldn't hold a candle compared with the stupidity displayed by some of today's college students.

On January 22, 2006, a 19-year-old freshman at the University of Georgia died in his dormitory room after spending a day (or two) drinking alcohol and taking heroin and cocaine. The police issued arrest warrants for seven of his companions for illegal possession of alcohol, heroin, cocaine, and fake identification cards, and for supplying alcoholic beverages to minors. The victim's friends said he was a model student; not a big partier, and never missed a class.

Something doesn't jive here. A model student typically is someone with above average intelligence. Along with intelligence one should have at least a modicum of knowledge about risky behaviors and their potential outcomes. One would not have to be a toxicologist to figure out that ingesting alcohol, heroin, and cocaine might not result in a positive outcome.

The University has taken drastic steps to curb this type of behavior and is now requiring all new freshmen to take an alcohol awareness course. This was based on a recent poll where over 60% of the respondents reported participating in binge drinking in the two-week period before the poll was taken. Fifty-three percent of the respondents said they missed a class because of alcohol or drug use. What I want to know is when do they find time for sex?


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Fish or Cut Bait by Bob Ciminel


Bob Ciminel's articles may include satire and parody, and mix fact with fiction.
He assumes informed readers will be able to tell the difference.

Bob lives in Roswell, Georgia, and works for the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations.  He is also a conductor on the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway.


Bob Ciminel ©2001 - 2005
All Rights Reserved

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Ketchikan, Alaska