Pen Pals

When I was in my early twenties, I fell for a bumper sticker about “The Lifesavers.” Next thing I knew I was raising my hand and swearing to support and defend the Constitution of this great country of ours. (Did I mention that the freedom of speech and association parts are my favorite in the text?) Next, next-thing I knew, I was drowning in a sea of testosterone. Over five years later, after being at sea for months and returning to a home port that didn’t feel anything like home, a lone friend met me at the pier, drove me to her apartment and set the mood as she put a funny looking blue album on the record player. Ah, relief. Suddenly, your “Making Waves” became a beacon of hope and your free speech became a lifesaver.
While on liberty one weekend, I attended my first “Sisterfire” in the DC area, where you were the MC. I waited nervously after the show to talk to you. As my heart pounded loud enough to ring in my ears, I rehearsed what I would say to you, in hopes of getting your attention and making a point. At the time, “armed services” personnel manuals actually divided homosexuality by categories, and mere association with a known homosexual automatically made you a Cater gory III or IV homosexual. Face to face with you at last, I handed you my program and asked you to write, “See you at your courts martial.” You bit and asked. I explained, and you wrote, “See you in court!”
You went on making waves and I went back to riding them. One day I finally got up the nerve to write to you – not so much a fan latter as a Thank You letter. I also wrote about life at sea and closed with, “If you send this letter back to me with red correction marks on spelling and grammar, then it’s over between us.” Imagine my surprise (and delight) when you scribbled back, “No red marks here. We could be pen-pals.” It was the start of a beautiful pal-ship!
Writing to you was occasionally bruising, literally, as I stayed up late at night typing letters to you in the ship’s office while in rough seas. My chair was bungied to the deck and a hard roll to starboard sent me flying away from the type writer, while the accompanying roll to port and bungee recoil would send me flying into the desk. But it was worth the pain because while I was writing to you I always felt less alone. Of course, then I’d have to run below and lock up the letters in my locker until I could safely mail them off to you. Years before it was trendy (and effortless) to slap a yellow ribbon magnet on a car, your wrote back to me, “Thank you for serving our country.”
Over five years of sea duty earned me the right to wear a cutterman’s pin and in recognition of your years of “making waves,” I gave you one of mine. With plenty of salt spray high-lites in my hair, rusty hull, battered bottom, and torn and tattered sails, I drifted into retirement. You, however, remain our silvered anniversaried Fumorizor Bunny – still going and going…..and going strong! I proudly salute you!
– Chief